CLEVELAND — Now, the Warriors’ goal is to go 16-0.
It probably was before, but they were taking the one-game-at-a-time approach and not looking ahead. After they gave up a 3-1 lead in last year’s NBA Finals, the Warriors said their only focus was getting to four wins.
But now that they’re up 3-0 on the Cavaliers in these Finals, and 15-0 in these playoffs, becoming the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in the playoffs is very much in their sights. Game 4 is Friday night.
“It is now,” Stephen Curry said. “It’s not in terms of 16-0 and what that means historically. It’s just that’s what’s in front of us . . . Now we can look ahead to Friday, all our focus is on that. We want 16 wins. It doesn’t matter how we get there.
“But now that we’re in this situation why not take care of business and finish the job?”
It’s been an amazing run for these Warriors, who appeared to be headed for their first loss Wednesday night. The Cavaliers were leading 113-107 with 3:09 remaining, at home, and with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving totaling 77 points. But Cleveland didn’t score again.
James and Irving were 0-for-4 with a turnover at that critical juncture, and Kevin Durant and Curry continued to make plays to lead the Warriors on an 11-0 game-ending run. Golden State celebrated a 118-113 victory and is now one win from sweeping the series, and the playoffs.
“Well it’s not over,” Durant, an early favorite for Finals MVP, said after his third straight game of at least 31 points. “Job’s not done. I’ve never been in this position being up in the Finals and trying to close it out. So I know how exciting that’s going to be for us as a team.”
Durant left Oklahoma City after last season and signed with Golden State to put himself in the best position to capture his first championship in his 10-year career. Both teams felt the pain of losing big leads last year.
The Thunder were up 3-1 on the Warriors in the Western Conference finals and couldn’t close it out. Then the Warriors had the same thing happen to them against Cleveland in the Finals.
It’s made the Warriors seem hungrier and more focused this year. That and having a collection of the best players in the league have them on the verge of perfection.
“I think we have grown and matured just mentally of how to just pace yourself through this long year and take every day as a new experience and something that you can kind of take control of,” Curry said. “So we try to control the narrative and the conversations and just our talk in the locker room and practice and especially the last months of just understanding what our goal is and how we’re going to get there.
“Being in this position right now it’s obviously working. We’re right there. So that’s a great thing. But obviously we’re not done yet. So I think we have done a pretty job of growing up as a team.”