OAKLAND, Calif.—A year ago for Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Golden State general manager Bob Myers sat alongside suspended forward Draymond Green next-door to Oracle Arena in a suite at the Oakland Athletics' game.
Myers told Green: Let's not do this again.
Tonight, the Warriors will try again to close out their second championship in three years with the fiery Green on the court to start Game 5 this time.
They are up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series—again. But LeBron James and Cleveland, looking down and out only days ago in an 0-3 hole, now have some momentum after winning Game 4 and will try to stave off elimination once more.
“We won three games in a row in the Finals and 15 in a row overall in the playoffs, you just think it's going to happen,” Green said yesterday.
“And then all of a sudden, you get slapped in the face,” he noted.
“It's like, 'Whoa.' You remember what can be, what can happen.”
Golden State would rather forget that monumental collapse last year, when Green's absence for Game 5 because of flagrant foul point accumulation helped swing the series.
If the Warriors can close out the Cavs tonight, they would become the first Bay Area team to capture a championship at home since the A's finished the L.A. Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1974 World Series.
James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love know they aren't out of this yet—after all, they came back from a daunting deficit a year ago on the way to the city's first major team sports title in 52 years.
Sure, it will be a tall task in Oakland with a motivated Kevin Durant trying to capture his first career title and playing like a possible Finals MVP.
“We know that champions don't die. They don't just lay down and die,” Durant said.
The Cavs showed what they're capable of doing when everything clicks on both ends, scoring a record 86 points in the first half of Friday's 137-116 win to extend the series and postpone any Warriors plans for a victory parade.
But that was in Cleveland.
“We have to be 20 times better in this building,” said James, who has won at least one road game in 29-straight post-season series.
Golden State knows it, too, must make adjustments, including getting a hand in the face of the Cavs' sharpshooters after surrendering a Finals record 24 three-pointers Friday—seven of those by Irving during his 40-point masterpiece.
Warriors' coach Steve Kerr said it all starts with better on-ball defence.