The 73-win Golden State Warriors blew their shot at history when they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year's finals. How are they coping with that? By not losing a playoff game in a historic post-season run.
In the third game of the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio, the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Caveliers 118-113.
One more victory and they clinch their second title in three years. But the Warriors are aiming for much more than a title.
Golden State has yet to lose a game in this season's playoffs. They have thus far swept away the Portland Trailblazers, the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs in the first three rounds of the playoffs, winning the first four games in each best-of-seven series.
If beat the Cavaliers in Game 4 in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, they will be the first team to go undefeated in an NBA playoffs.
Avenging last season's heartbreak
The Warriors had history at their fingertips when they faced the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals last season. They had won a league record 73 games in the regular season, besting the total Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls achieved in the 1995-96 season. Point guard Stephen Curry won the league's Most Valuable Player award - partly because of the historical achievement, but partly because he made an NBA record 402 three point shots during the season.
The Warriors were on the brink of their second straight championship with a three games to one lead over the Cavaliers. The title may have allowed the team to unseat the 95-96 as the greatest team ever. But NBA superstar Lebron James, a hometown hero in Cleveland, led his team to three consecutive wins, giving the city its first sports championship in 62 years.
"We're stunned. We thought we were going to win," Warriors coach Steve Kerr, a member of the 95-96 Bulls team, said after the loss. "I was extremely confident. We had a phenomenal season. We did something that's never been done before. Couldn't finish it off."
The big loss prompted a big splash in the free agent market. The Warriors recruited Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had lost to Golden State in the Western Conference Finals. With two of the best shooters in the National Basketball Association in Durant and Curry, Golden State won a respectable 67 games in the regular season, including 15 in 16 games before the start of the playoffs.
One win until history
A few teams have come close to playoff perfection before. The only game the 76ers lost in their 1983 championship run was to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers were unbeaten in the 2001 playoffs until the finals, where they lost the first game to the 76ers before winning the next four.
With their 15 consecutive wins, no team has come as close to perfection as the Warriors have. James, a four-time league MVP, will do his best to prevent his Cavaliers from being on the wrong side of history, but even he admits this team is going to be hard to beat.
"I said it after we won the Eastern Conference finals that we're getting ready for a juggernaut. It's probably the most, most firepower I've played in my career," James said after the game Wednesday. "I played against some great teams, but I don't think no team has had this type of firepower."