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Cavs could use a home crowd boost for NBA Finals Game 3

The Cavaliers' bench during the second half of

The Cavaliers' bench during the second half of NBA Finals Game 2 against the Warriors in Oakland, Calif., on June 3, 2018. Credit: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez

OAKLAND — Going down 2-0 to the Warriors in the NBA Finals isn’t necessarily a death sentence for the Cavaliers. After all, the same thing happened two years ago on their way to becoming the first team in Finals history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the title. And in the Eastern Conference finals this season, they came back from 0-2 to win a seven-game series over the Celtics.

But the Cavs understand their shoulder blades are pinned squarely against the wall following their 122-103 Game 2 loss to the Warriors on Sunday at Oracle Arena. They have two days off to regroup before Game 3 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

“We have to make sure we really bring it in Game 3 because that’s really the game right there,” Cavs forward Kevin Love said. “This is a team that you don’t want to be down 0-3 against. We know that. I was mentioning it in the locker room.”

Coming off his 51-point outing in Game 1, LeBron James fell one rebound short of a triple-double in Game 2 with 29 points nine rebounds and 13 assists. The Warriors double-teamed him more in the paint and forced him to pass the ball. Love scored 22 points, but the Cavs shot only 41.1 percent.

James is searching for answers and trying to coax a better effort out of his teammates. The Cavs have lost only one home game during the playoffs this season, but James emphasized they can’t simply count on the home crowd to lift them to victory over the Warriors.

“We want to continue to be uncomfortable,” James said. “Just because we’re going home doesn’t mean we can relax. This is the last team in the world you want to relax against. They’ve proven they can win on someone else’s floor no matter if it’s through adversity like when they were going through the Rockets series (in the seven-game Western Conference finals). They’ve proven they can win on someone else’s floor and do it in any fashion, in any way.”

Technically, all the Warriors have accomplished is to hold serve on their home court. If the Cavs can do the same to square the series at 2-2, they might have two more chances to get the road win they need.

“Home court advantage can be a real thing,” Love said. “You look at how good the Warriors are at Oracle, it’s the same for us at home. We feed off our crowd. We really get up to play at home. Come Wednesday, we’re going to have to be better . . . I think going home and being in front of our crowd for Game 3 of the Finals will be huge for us.”

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