CLEVELAND -- Despite losing just five games in six series in the Eastern Conference Playoffs over the last three years, the Cleveland Cavaliers are no strangers to comebacks.
And that comeback ability might very well come in handy, as the Cavaliers find themselves down, 2-0, in a best-of-seven series against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the second consecutive season.
In the exact same position last year, the Cavaliers overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the Warriors and win the NBA Championship for the first time in franchise history, and although the two teams are far different than a year ago, there are certain lessons that can be taken from the experience.
“You understand the journey and how much of the energy it took from a mental and physical standpoint in order to come back from something like that,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said after Tuesday’s practice.
“You know it’s definitely possible, but also, the realization that you’re in a new moment, new journey, with some new guys in a new collective group. You understand that it has to be different things done in order to be successful in this series.”
In the 132-113 Game 2 loss Sunday, the Cavaliers got 29 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, three steals and one blocked shot from small forward LeBron James, as well as 27 and 19 points from power forward Kevin Love and Irving, respectively, but that was not enough to combat the Warriors’ offensive firepower.
The Warriors got double-digit scoring efforts from four of their five starters, as well as reserve point guard Shaun Livingston.
Small forward Kevin Durant (33 points, 13 rebounds) and point guard Stephen Curry (32, 10, 11 assists) led the way for Golden State. Shooting guard Klay Thompson tallied 22 points and despite foul trouble for the entire game, power forward Draymond Green added 12 points, nine of which came on three-pointers, to go along with six rebounds, six assists and one steal.
“We just need our supporting group to be themselves as much as possible,” Irving said. “Understand that they have a unique opportunity to make us that much better, and for a majority of this season, it’s been on myself, ‘Bron and K-Love’s shoulders.
“We have done a great job of getting everyone involved and making sure that everyone feels comfortable, but now, we need everything and everybody. And I know they know how important they are, and it’s our job, my job to exude as much confidence as I can in them in order to get the very best, and I will do that.”
For the Cavaliers to fight their way back into The Finals for a second straight year, Irving knows it will be a total team effort, one even greater than what was put forth during the 2016 NBA Finals.
“It’s going to come from a very special place, and we’re going to need everyone, from myself to my teammates to the coaching staff to our fans, and understand how important Game 3 is,” Irving said.
“Going into it, we definitely want to limit some of our mistakes and things that we don’t want to necessarily mimic that we did in Game 1 and 2. So coming back home, watching film, seeing different things, we can execute and do at a very high level what we need to do.”