CLEVELAND – The Warriors under coach Steve Kerr, the all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage, are the kings of 3, taking and making more treys than any team in the NBA. No doubt 3 is their favorite number.
But the number 3 is not always good to them, particularly in the playoffs.
The Warriors under Kerr have played seven Game 3s and lost five – including all three Game 3s this postseason. Each of those seven games have been on the road, as will the next Game 3, Wednesday night against Cleveland in the NBA Finals.
Is there a curse?
Is there a cure?
“I wish I knew,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday. “I would just tell the guys not to do that, whatever it was.”
The Warriors won Games 1 and 2 at Oracle Arena, putting the Cavs in a 0-2 hole. Cleveland can dig halfway out with a victory in Game 3, something each of their last four playoff opponents have managed to do when the Warriors visited for a Game 3.
“It’s a make-or-break game for the Cavs,” guard Klay Thompson said. “We expect them to come out with great desperation and great hunger, and we’ve just got to match that.”
That has been the problem with Game 3s for the Warriors. They leave home for the first time in a series and seem oddly unprepared for the revved up home team as well as the cascade of disapproving noise coming down upon them as visitors.
They took a 133-105 loss to Oklahoma City in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on May 22, a 120-108 loss to Portland in Game 3 of the conference semifinals on May 7 and a 97-96 loss to Houston in Game 3 of the first round.
Though there was no convenient explanation for being blown out by the Thunder, there was an extenuating circumstance for each of the previous Game 3 losses: Stephen Curry, the New Millennium King of 3s, was injured and watching from a seat on the bench.
“The Houston series, I didn’t play and we still had a legit chance tin the last two minutes to get that job done,” Curry said. “So that was kind of a missed opportunity. In the Portland series, it was kind of the same way. Then the last series we just got dismantled in (Games) 3 and 4 on the road.
“It was more a situation where we kind of –- obviously, the Thunder are a great team –- but we beat ourselves with turnovers and the details of the game plan that we knew we needed to correct or to execute at a very high level to win on the road. So we hope we can figure that out tomorrow.”
Cleveland would be the appropriate town to find a cure, for this is where the skid began. They lost Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals, going down 2-1 to the Cavs, before making a lineup change and winning Games 4 and 5 and 6.
That Game 3 was, for the record, the first of what has become a four-game losing streak in Game 3s.
“We’ve had a couple Game 3s where maybe we let our guard down, being up 2-0,” Kerr said. “Last year we lost here in Game 3. I remember that.”