The Miami Heat players can relate to how the Thunder is feeling right now.
In fact, just last season, nearly a year ago to the day, Miami was in the exact same position.
After a smooth and well-executed series opener, the Heat struck first in the 2011 NBA Finals, trouncing Dallas 92-84 and gaining early momentum in front of an energetic home crowd.
Two days later, with reactionary talk show hosts all but declaring the series over, Miami played uncharacteristically sluggish, losing a late lead and eventually a 95-93 heartbreaker.
“There's no shock, there's disappointment,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said at the time. “But the reality is the reality. We might as well get used to it and focus on the next one.”
Just like that, Miami had relinquished homecourt advantage, stunning a confident crowd that smelled blood. The championship parade plans were put on hold. To salvage the season, and guarantee another home game, the Heat had to go on the road and win at least one game.
Sound familiar, Thunder fans?
Because it's the exact same scenario this year, with the final scores of the first two games nearly mirroring those in 2011. But this time, Oklahoma City has swapped spots with Miami.
And the Heat is happily playing the role of spoiler.
“We seized the moment,” guard Dwyane Wade said. “And Game 3 is going to be another one of those games, so we've got to figure out a way at home to protect home floor.”
To keep that stolen advantage, as the series shifts to South Beach, Miami must win the next three, all in American Airlines Arena. It's the longest stretch of midseries home games during any point of the playoffs, for any team.
The strange scheduling quirk is part of the NBA's travel friendly 2-3-2 series format, used to help an enhanced media presence limit its countrywide movement.
It presents a unique challenge for both teams. Oklahoma City is on a weeklong road trip, forced to win a huge road game to swing the series back to its rowdy crowd. Miami, on the other hand, has the pressure of beating a great team three times in a row to avoid the daunting task of closing out a title in the most hostile of environments.
But either way, both teams will remain confident, regardless which way the series swings.
Both are incredible in front of their crowds, combining to go 17-3 in home playoff games this year. But both also have proved they can win on the road.
The Thunder took two at Dallas, won a huge game in Los Angeles and completely altered the Western Conference Finals with a Game 5 win in San Antonio.
Miami closed out a pesky Indiana team on the road, dominated a potential elimination game in Boston and handed Oklahoma City its first home loss this postseason.
“The 2-3-2 doesn't mean much, I guess,” LeBron James said. “These are the two best teams. They're confident no matter what building they're in. We're happy now that it's a 1-1 series and we're going back to Miami and will take control of the home court. But it doesn't mean the series has changed.”