Skip to main content

Warriors-Cavaliers Preview

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James, playing in his sixth consecutive NBA Finals, provided proper context for the Cleveland Cavaliers entering Wednesday's Game 3 trailing the Golden State Warriors 2-0 as the best-of-seven shifts to Ohio.

"It's a do or die game for us," said James from his seat where he appeared solo at a podium Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

James won't be fighting alone in Game 3, the first at home in the Finals for the Cavaliers after dropping two games at Oracle Arena, including the 33-point defeat Sunday night. The Cavaliers are unbeaten at home in the 2016 playoffs, and players said Tuesday the energy level is already rising.

"We feed off each other. We've been great at home," said Cavs forward Tristan Thompson. "We're excited."

Thompson and forward J.R. Smith could be in line for bigger roles Wednesday. Kevin Love sat out practice Tuesday because of a concussion suffered Sunday, but is optimistic he can play in Game 3. That call will be made by medical personnel.

Losing Love, a three-time NBA All-Star, would be a huge blow to the Cavaliers. The Warriors beat the Cavaliers in last year's NBA Finals, 4-2, when Love did not play because of a shoulder injury.

Golden State won the 2015 NBA title with a Game 6 win in this arena last year with big contributions from their bench -- namely guard Shaun Livingston and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala -- and wants to shake off a recent trend of slipping in Game 3 of playoff series this year.

The Cavaliers cruised through the Eastern Conference playoffs with dead-eye outside shooting. But Cleveland's offense looked stagnant on the road in the first two games of the Finals, where the Warriors held the Cavs to 35.6 percent shooting.

"If we can score a little bit more, which I believe we will do in Game 3, that will help our defense out a lot, too," James said. "When you miss versus those guys it gives them the ability to get out and run, which they're very good at. Either from Draymond (Green) pushing the break or Iguodala pushing the break or Steph and those guys run the floor and they run to their spots and create a lot of problems. So if they're taking the ball out of bounds, then it slows it up just a little bit. So we've got to do a better job of putting the ball in the basket."

Two-time runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year Green, who said the energy of his own home crowd helped sparked the Warriors, said there is plenty of fuel to be found away from Oracle Arena.

"I've always said the best feeling in the world is to quiet another team's crowd, so that right there is motivation," said Green.

The Warriors have won five games in a row since falling behind the Oklahoma City Thunder 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. In the past four games, the Warriors are giving up 88.8 points per game, and thriving against the Cavaliers despite below-average efforts from MVP Steph Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson.

"We just want to win. It doesn't matter who scores the points or who gets the credit," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. "We do feel like the strength of our team is our depth, and we're not overly reliant on one player, even the MVP. So our depth has shown so far, and I'm sure we'll have different players continue to step up as the series goes on."