LeBron James took the too cool for school approach following the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ 98-80 Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. And to be fair, that’s probably what he should’ve done.
“I’ve always stayed even-keeled with the postseason,” James told reporters. “I mean, I’m down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So I’m the last guy to ask about how you’re going to feel the next couple days.”
The biggest issue — there are several — with that statement is those Cavaliers were a significantly more talented team than the present group. Oh, and that was in the Finals not the first round. But other than that it’s apples to apples.
“We had some guys in their first time out there playing in this setting, and they definitely … Like I told you guys, you always ask me, ‘Is there anything you can tell them [about the playoffs]?’ Listen, experience is the best teacher, and they got it today,” James said. “I think everybody is going to be a lot more calm and a lot more precise in what we want to do, too. So it’s definitely a feel-out game. We’ll see what they’re going to do.”
Case in point.
In all seriousness, losing Game 1 in the first round isn’t some insurmountable deficit for LeBron and Co. There isn’t any reason to believe the Cavaliers can’t win Game 2 and then one of the next two in Indiana to steal back home court advantage.
One positive thing Cleveland can take away from Game 1 is how well James played. He scored 24 points, dished out 12 assists and grabbed 10 boards for the 20th triple-double of his playoff career. He is the best player on the court in this series (if not any series), and can easily take over Game 2 and any other game in this series.
The problem is the supporting cast around him. There’s nothing that can change that at this point in the season.
Only two Cavaliers aside from James scored in double figures in their playoff opener: J.R. Smith (15) and Larry Nance (10), both off the bench. The other four starters combined for only 25 points. That’s a big reason why LeBron had to play a whopping 44 minutes on Sunday and is extremely thankful for the extra off day between games.
The biggest key to any series involving the Cavaliers is always LeBron James, but assuming he stays healthy, the real key for Cleveland in this series is who steps up around him.
That’s not a new problem, either, and that’s what should truly be concerning to James. Kyrie Irving isn’t walking through that door (for Cleveland or Boston in fact, but I digress). There are no trades or shake-ups to be made. This is the squad for the 2018 postseason and the question has now shifted from “Is this group good enough to get to the Finals?” to “Can they make it out of Round 1?”
That’s probably a bit of an overreaction, but not out of the question. The real trouble starts if they lose Game 2.
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