It’s amazing what one win can do for the collective mood of a city and a fan base. But if you thought Cleveland and Cavs Nation drew energy from a win in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, just imagine what would happen if they won Game 5 tonight on 1057 The Zone.
The Cavs seemed hopelessly out of the NBA Finals after blowing a seven-point, fourth-quarter lead in Game 3 to fall into a hole no playoff team has ever escaped.
Teams that have faced a 3-0 post-season deficit are 0-126 all time in the playoffs, but after a win in Game 4 on Friday night the Cavs are on the brink of introducing some real doubt to the Series.
There are two ways to look at this:
The pessimist would say there's no way the Warriors are losing four in a row to the Cavs.
The optimist would say, “Why not. They lost three straight to them last year, and the Cavs are now in exact same 3-1 deficit they overcame a year ago to make NBA Finals history.”
Where do I stand?
Can I tell you after Game 5?
No, that would be the coward's way out. Or, as it should be known, the Kevin Durant Method.
I give the Cavs only about a 20% chance of getting the Series back to Cleveland. But if they do, I give them a 90% chance of winning that one and forcing a Game 7 on Father's Day this Sunday.
The disparity in those two numbers -- 20% vs. 90% -- is wrapped up in more than the home-court advantage Golden State will have in Game 5 vs. the home-court edge the Cavs would enjoy in Game 6.
It's more the weight of expectations and how they impact the Warriors.
Despite the Cavs' win on Friday, I don't think there's much more than a seed of doubt in the Warriors' minds that they'll win the NBA title.
But, that seed will explode and grow out of control if Golden State loses Game 5. All the sudden, Durant will be playing with the same pressure he wilted under last season when his Oklahoma City Thunder had a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors.
When Durant didn't close out Golden State in Game 5, it put considerable heat on him to get that done in Game 6 at home. He couldn't handle it, and he lost not only that game, but the next one to lose the series.
It's the same sort of pressure that crippled the Warriors last season when they lost Game 5 at home, couldn't eliminate the Cavs in Game 6 and then had to win at home in Game 7.
Golden State has played free and loose from ahead in this series. But if you think about it, the Cavs have gotten closer to them every game. Cleveland should have won Game 3, and would have, had Kyle Korver hit a corner 3 in the final minute. That's a shot he makes 60% of the time.
Friday night, the Cavaliers hit shots they missed in the first three games, making 24 three-pointers to set an NBA Finals record.
If the Cavs' 3-pointers fall in Game 5, the Warriors could clutch up and start to think, “Here we go again.”
After all, Golden State has had a championship victory party planned four times now and had to cancel after Games 5, 6 and 7 last year and after Game 4 Friday night in Cleveland.
The Warriors flew all their family members into Northeast Ohio that day, thinking they'd party long into the night. Instead, they had to get back on a plane and think at least a little bit about what the Cavs did to them last year.
The last place Durant, Steph Curry and Draymond Green want to go again is back across the country for a Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena.
As distasteful as that prospect is to them, it's absolutely delicious for me and other Cavs fans to contemplate.
Let's just hope we get to see it.