Maybe this is an overreaction to one subpar game by the Warriors, and one outstanding performance by the Cavaliers’ two best players. But it’s a reminder of what’s at stake here: For the Warriors, to drop this series after rallying against the Thunder the way they did would be a disappointment of franchise-rattling proportions. It would essentially obliterate all the momentum they have, both nationally and locally; it would reinforce the annoying and inaccurate idea that this team is somehow “soft” and flukish, winner of a single championship, buoyed on its own hype.
And for Cleveland? A rebound from a 3-1 deficit would reverse the narrative of the entire city. It would negate all those years of Red Right 88 and Drives and Fumbles; it would patch over Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo and the end of that 1997 World Series. I lived in northeast Ohio for five years, and I live in San Francisco now, and I can say with near-certainty that the Bay Area itself would change very little if the Warriors somehow choke away this title. But if Cleveland were to steal it? The whole region would view itself differently.
It’s still a long shot, I know. But that’s what they said in 2004. Every so often, it happens, and there’s nothing you can do but embrace the karma.
Michael Weinreb is the author of Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games, now out in paperback. You can find him on Twitter @michaelweinreb