The Cavs are in a familiar spot -- playing Game 3 of the NBA finals down 2-0. But a lot has changed since the NBA champs pushed the Golden State Warriors to seven games last season. WKSU Commentator Terry Pluto says that winning tonight’s game is crucial.
“No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA history,” he says. “In fact, what often happens is when you go down three games to none, you lose game four because the players themselves know it’s over.”
But Pluto thinks a lot of the same factors as last year are at play this year. He remembers this time last year, when the Cavs were 0-2 in the series and a long-shot to win the championship, he predicted the Cavs would win the third game.
“I looked at the two rosters and thought, ‘You have LeBron James and they don’t; the Cavs are a much better team at home, and I felt if they could put some pressure on Golden State, they could turn it in their direction. That’s exactly what happened in Game 3,” he recalls.
What's the same, what's different?
“Now a lot of those things still apply,” he added. “(The Warriors) are 14-0 in the post-season. ... They are playing at a much higher level than they were playing a year ago.”
Pluto also notes that LeBron James’ has offered one big reason for the Warriors’ success so far: Kevin Durant joined Golden State this year. Pluto says his physical appearance alone is dominating.
“Physically, Golden State has a specimen -- an NBA-type body that they didn’t have last year,” he says. “(LeBron James) probably thinks that Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the NBA, but he’s never said that.”
Durant in the mix
Aside from Durant, Pluto is impressed with Golden State’s lineup, which includes Clay Thompson, Draymon Green and star player Stephen Curry.
“He’s so much fun to watch,” Pluto sayes of Curry. “He’s the guy that shoots the ball seemingly from the Golden Gate Bridge and makes them.”
Pluto says that Durant’s inclusion among the Warriors’ stars is almost seamless, citing Durant’s passing skills, his ability to work as a teammate and his success in guarding LeBron James. That’s also a problem, according to Pluto.
“There’s no one to guard Kevin Durant,” he said. “LeBron could do it, but if you have LeBron chasing him around on defense, what does that do to LeBron?”
Where are the other Cavs?
Wear him out, Pluto answers. And Pluto says the Cavs supporting cast of stars such as J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver -- have not stepped up.
“They have almost checked out in this series. They’re hardly doing anything.” he says. “When you see LeBron huffing and puffing, he’s wondering ‘where are these other guys?’”
Pluto says those players are key if the Cavs hope to win tonight.
“When you’re the underdog, and you’re playing at home, you need power from an unexpected source,” he says.
“And I have to admit, I was wrong. I thought Golden State would have far more problems working Kevin Durant into things than they did.”