This is it for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they know it (or at least they should). As they head into Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals, the Cavs aren’t just facing a 2-0 deficit, they’re facing the reality that this might be as good as it gets for them; that a trip to the Finals is the absolute best this team is capable of. That may sound harsh, but unfortunately, it’s the truth.
Whether the Cavs wish to believe this or not is irrelevant. Right now, the team faces a make-or-break moment; a “must-win” Game 3 on their home floor, and that is something they cannot deny. According to ESPN, LeBron James elaborated:
Obviously, it’s a do-or-die game for us. We can’t afford to go down 3-0 to any team, especially a team that’s 73-9 in the regular season and playing the type of basketball they’re playing. So it’s a do-or-die game for us, and we understand that. So we’re going to come in and give everything that we’ve got and leave it on the floor.
Most pundits will tell you that this series is over. They’ll tell you that the Cavaliers have no shot at overcoming the odds and toppling the mighty Golden State Warriors. In all honesty, it’s hard to argue with them. However, as unlikely as a Cavaliers comeback sounds, history has seen it happen before.
At this point, the Cavaliers need to focus on one game at a time, starting with the upcoming Game 3. If they do the following three things, maybe, just maybe, they’ll find themselves back in the series.
1. Start hitting from long range
There’s no easy way to put it, through the first two games of the Finals, the Cavaliers have been abysmal from three-point range. This group has only knocked down 12 triples and is shooting just a combined 27.3% from beyond the arc. To beat the Dubs in Game 3, Cleveland must improve dramatically in this area.
Fortunately, as we’ve seen throughout most of the postseason, the Cavs are more than capable of getting this done. Although it seems like forever ago, Cleveland is still the same team that shot just under 40% from long range against the Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals and dropped threes at a 50.7% clip versus the Hawks in the conference semifinals.
Granted, these clubs are not on Golden State’s level, but this is less about the opposition and more about Cleveland’s ability to strike from long range. If the Cavs are connecting from deep, it won’t matter who they’re playing.
Like each individual contest itself, basketball is a game of streaks. Should the Cavs start knocking down shots, their confidence will build, an energized crowd at Quicken Loans will get behind them, and the buckets will soon follow. And hopefully, so will a victory in Game 3.