But while it is a ready-made plot - complete with an endless series of 3-1 jokes the Internet has reveled in since last year's Finals ended - the truth is that this year's Finals look and feel different, even if the two teams that will take the floor at Oracle Arena on Monday night are in the same position.
"We have to bring our best game every game against this team". You take the good and the bad. "And for the rest of us, we have to do everything else". Remember the Boston Red Sox climbing out of an 0-3 hole in that best-of-seven stunner against the dang Yankees of NY to become the first and only team in Major League Baseball history to win a postseason series from such a hapless start? The first and most obvious difference is the presence of Kevin Durant - the man Golden State signed last summer to ensure that the scenario that played out a year ago wouldn't happen again.
LeBron James set another personal milestone as he finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists to record his ninth Finals triple-double, overtaking Magic Johnson for the most in NBA Finals history. And Golden State is torn, choosing between extraordinary measures to deal with Irving vs. sticking with their preferred tactics that he seems to have solved. It was given to Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr instead. We know it's not going to be an easy game for us. "If you get broken down at the point of attack, now you have to help and now the dominoes start falling and they're swinging the ball side to side, and they got shooters everywhere". He's already doing pretty well.
But the Warriors have always created suspicions that they give in to their comfort level a bit too readily, believing, sometimes prematurely, that they can break a team's will at will. And since Zaza did not knock LeBron or Kyrie Irving out of the game to start the second half, the Warriors could not overcome that deficit. "I think the last two games we have played Cavaliers basketball", he said.
Irving certainly has experience stepping up on the big occasion at Oracle, particularly when he dropped an incredible 41 points on the Green-less Warriors in Game 5 of last year's Finals. "I'm confident, I'm energetic and positive about the opportunity we have in front of us tomorrow".
"The past is the past".
"It's definitely fuelled us all year, just trying to keep that hunger to get back to the stage".
Green said the chance to sweep was a distraction more so than the now-ended chance to become the first champion to roll unbeaten through the playoffs.
"Pittsburgh" for the second time in a row won the Stanley Cup
This championship season for the Penguins lacked some of the drama from a year ago, but it was far from a slam dunk. Crosby is the third player in National Hockey League history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in back-to-back years.
Steph Curry may have slipped out of Finals MVP contention after Game 4, but Kevin Durant continued to stake his claim to the trophy after another spectacular performance in Game 4.
Draymond Green was once again at the center of a lot of talk following the strong comments he made against the Cleveland Cavaliers' fans recently. "As ESPN's Tim Legler noted over the weekend, "(The Cavs) really manhandled Golden State.
And while he and the Warriors didn't realize what would have been an unprecedented 16-0 postseason by losing to the Cavaliers on Friday, all that matters now is the chance to win a second championship in three years.
After all, if a team with the best defense gives up the most points in a Finals game in each of the first three quarters and the sixth-highest total over (out of 820 games), a 21-point loss is a veritable gift. But then you add, of course, some chatter in there, and that adds some extra motivation. You remember what can happen.
Curry often gets critiqued for sticking to the game plan and not taking over in crunch time.
For the past year, the Warriors have been focused on getting back to the NBA Finals, on avenging the embarrassment and disappointment that came with failing to win a title in what would have been the greatest season in the history of the sport after a record 73-win regular season.
In sum, the Warriors need to Curry to get hot early, but how does that happen when he's facing so many off-ball situations?
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