LeBron James said before the start of the NBA Finals that the Cleveland Cavaliers will draw on their experience.
Down 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, James and the Cavaliers are entering must-win territory for Game 3 on Wednesday in Cleveland.
“We’ve been very persistent, very resilient throughout this whole season no matter what’s been going on,” he said. “We have an opportunity to come out and protect home.
“We look forward to the challenge. It’s a very tall task.”
Coming off a personal-best 51 points in a Game 1 loss, James led the Cavaliers with 29 points in Game 2 on Sunday, but he went more than 12 consecutive minutes in the first half without a field goal, during which Golden State took the lead for good.
All-Star Kevin Love said Tuesday the Cavaliers are focusing on communication on defense to spark their offense and get more punch to stand up to the Warriors.
“I think it’s pretty infectious. Once guys start talking and they’re loud and continuous with talking loud and being great with our coverages, that’s going to really help us throughout the entire game,” Love said. “I remember I was sitting in the third quarter and start of the fourth where I couldn’t hear anybody on our side of the ball talking. That’s such a huge thing for us because you kind of speak things into existence. Guys will get out on the switches. Guys will be able to slip to the basket and we’ll be able to cover for one another. So it’s going to be huge for us. We know it’s going to be loud. We know it’s going to be tough to hear one another, but we’ve got to be better with that.”
Head coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavaliers can’t win without being more physical, a point James agreed with.
“Bringing physicality has always been a point of emphasis for our ballclub,” James said. “It started with the first game of the Indiana series. They were more physical, and we realized the playoffs had started.”
Getting home is a nearly indescribable feeling for James. The Cavs were down 2-0 in each of the past two NBA Finals to the Warriors and won the title in 2016.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said Golden State is guaranteed nothing if it doesn’t continue to make shots and defend.
“We’ve been here before, and that’s the biggest thing. We’ve been here the last three years for Game 3. First year, it was 1-1,” Kerr said. “Last two years, we were up 2-0. All three games were really, really difficult. So we’re used to that. We’re used to the dynamic of being ahead in a series and then having everything shift when you go on the road. But especially when you play Cleveland. LeBron, this crowd and their environment, we know the kind of force they’re going to bring. And we have to be prepared for that. We know it. We’ll see if we can do it.”
James said it feels like the team is down 2-0.
“I don’t like the way I feel, the mood I’m in right now,” James said. “When you’re down like this, a deficit like this against a team like this, there’s no good feeling. I don’t feel good — how I feel right now. I personally don’t feel good today about the deficit we have. I feel great about tomorrow, the opportunity we have.”
Kerr said forward Andre Iguodala, who hasn’t played since Game 3 of the Western Conference finals due to a bone bruise in his left knee, is getting closer to game-ready but remains day-to-day. He is questionable for Game 3 of the Finals.
“He’s doing better. He played yesterday some one-on-one, did some full-court drills. He told me he’s feeling better. So I would upgrade him to questionable. He’ll go through practice today, and we’ll see how he feels after that, and tomorrow. But I think he’s getting closer, and I’m hopeful that he can play. If not tomorrow, then in Game 4. But, again, it’s day to day.”
—Field Level Media