INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — For as embellished a profession as LeBron James has loved, he has been at his very best in a single specific realm: the primary spherical of the NBA playoffs.
James’ groups are 48-7 within the first spherical and have received 21 video games in a row coming into the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ sequence opener in opposition to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday (three:30 p.m. ET, ABC). James, who made his postseason debut in 2006, has by no means misplaced a first-round sequence (12-Zero) or Sport 1 of a gap sequence.
Does James really feel any added accountability at first of the playoffs this spring, with a roster that features a number of rotation gamers — Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood — with little to no postseason expertise?
“My responsibility has been the same for quite a while now: Go out and try to dominate,” James mentioned after follow Saturday.
What hasn’t been the identical is the common season James simply had. He enters the playoffs having performed in all 82 video games for the primary time in his profession.
The 33-year-old ahead insists that his regular-season workload didn’t have an effect on how ready he’s as he makes an attempt to make it to an eighth straight NBA Finals.
“Mentally and physically, I’m where I should be right now,” James mentioned. “I’m not comparing it to last year. I’m not comparing it to previous years. I don’t compare it to next year. Right now, how I feel, I feel where I need to be and I’m healthy going into the postseason — as healthy as you can be going into the postseason. So we’ll see what happens.”
James and the Cavs swept the Pacers out of the primary spherical final season, however that sequence featured Kyrie Irving taking part in for Cleveland and Paul George taking part in for Indiana, simply to call a few the modifications which have occurred since then. James credited this 12 months’s Pacers staff for being “more well-balanced” with All-Star guard Victor Oladipo main the cost, however he did not let that reward flip into paranoia.
“I mean, I don’t have any concerns,” James mentioned. “Listen, it’s going to be a very good matchup. It’s 4-5 for a reason. Both teams played good ball at times throughout the regular season. Obviously their season, from the outside looking in, was more productive than ours because of what they went through in the offseason. But we went through a lot in the offseason as well. It’s a good matchup and we look forward to the challenge.”
Sport 1 will mark the primary time the Cavs could have a very wholesome roster since Cleveland overhauled its franchise on the commerce deadline, dealing six gamers and welcoming 4 new gamers of their place.
“That’s great for Coach [Tyronn] Lue and the coaching staff that we have everybody available for the first time this season,” James mentioned. “I think that’s pretty cool, and it’s strange at the same time.”
James identified the potential draw back to having too many choices.
“We have lineups we can go to that we haven’t been able to go to all year,” he mentioned. “But with that it also creates some unfamiliarity on the floor, too. You’re playing with lineups sometimes you haven’t played with or had a lot of minutes with. We’ll see how it benefits us.”
The Cavs and Golden State Warriors met within the Finals the previous three years, however a fourth matchup isn’t any certainty. Cleveland is the No. four seed within the East and now not has Irving. The Warriors are the No. 2 seed within the West and lacking Stephen Curry to start out the postseason due to a knee damage.
“Who is the team to beat? Everybody’s the team to beat,” James mentioned. “Golden State is the defending champions, so everybody’s trying to see if they can be a new crowned champion. Golden State is trying to defend that. I don’t know who’s the team to beat. There’s 16 teams, there’s going to be some great series going on and everybody is trying to win.”
James — who likened the playoffs to his style of March Insanity, seeing as he skipped school to go straight to the NBA — mentioned he plans to have a little bit of a survive-and-advance message when he addresses the staff previous to Sport 1.
“Let’s just put ourselves in a position to try to be successful every night and let’s try to continue to win,” James mentioned. “It’s like ‘The Hunger Games’ — let’s see if we can keep going. Don’t want to hear that loud noise in the sky. You know what that means.”