Stubborn Cavaliers must slow down the tempo to survive Game 3

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Cleveland Cavaliers stand at a crossroads once again on the NBA Finals stage, down 0-2 to the vaunted Golden State Warriors, and Kyrie Irving is in the middle of it all.

The first two games of the NBA Finals are the most-watched since Jordan's final championship in 1998.

Last year, the Cavs rallied to win Game 3 at home emphatically to momentarily blunt criticism of the lackluster performances in Games 1 and 2. Golden State scored a ridiculous 132 in the second game of the series, and if not for the fact that they turned the ball over 20 times in that one, the beating could have been a whole lot worse.

"We've got to play our game and play with pace, but we can't get in a hurry".

We're not seeing the same Durant with this energetic Golden State team.

"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".

"But we are here, we're more focused on what happened a year ago like in terms of we were up 2-0 and we came here and the series shifted". "They're obviously trying to make a few other guys make plays and when we're coming off our isolations, they're bringing a few more bodies to clog the lane". They're the first National Basketball Association team to ever do it. If you go in and create this player and he can do everything he wants to do, you're probably going to create Kevin Durant.

But the biggest factor in these Finals has been Kevin Durant.

With that said, a rematch between these two teams sans Durant would have made for more of an entertaining series, especially with Klay Thompson's shooting struggles before he regained his stroke in Game 2. I know the offense gets most of the attention but our players, they work at it, collectively, individually.

A 150-point game isn't even out of reach.

"The game is completely different than it was back then", Green told reporters on Tuesday. If you don't win, and someone says he's the best player in the world, what do you get from that?

"There's no feeling of, we're nearly there", Green said. "We knew he would fit perfectly into what we did but make us better".

Despite the criticism, the Finals so far have earned the highest TV ratings since 1998, when Jordan's Bulls won their sixth National Basketball Association championship of the decade by defeating the Utah Jazz in six games. But as someone who has been in those post-game scrums, there are plenty of suspects in the media who you could point the finger at as well, they're just a lot lower profile than the guys who are on the court.

"We have to play fast", Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. One line of thought is that Gilbert does not want to have the league's highest payroll while also paying a general manager top dollar. "And we have done a great job of getting everyone involved and making sure that everyone feels comfortable, but now we need everything and everybody".

Game 3 against Golden State is Wednesday at 9 Quicken Loans Arena. And we take pride in it, we care about it.

  • Julie Sanders