OAKLAND, United States – Far from demoralized, James said he is re-energized by the chance to level the NBA Finals series against the Golden State Warriors before the scene changes to Cleveland next week in the 4th consecutive finals between the two clubs.
"You should feel excited about the opportunity to be better and be great and move forward," James said. "I woke up feeling excited about the opportunity that presents itself tomorrow.
"I expect us to come and play with the same grit we had in Game 2. And we made a lot of mistakes in Game 1. I expect us to be better."
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is slated Sunday, June 3. (LOOK: NBA Finals 2018 schedule, Philippine time)
James scored 51 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and passed off 8 assists, his scoring total the most in an NBA Finals game since 1993 and the most ever in a losing cause.
But big numbers after defeats have become a James trademark in the playoffs. Four times after producing fewer than 27 points in a post-season loss this year, James has scored 42 or more in the following contest.
But where do you go from 51 points?
"That means he has to score 60 now, right?" Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of James. "Well, got to score 60 tomorrow then I guess.
"After a loss, it's tough. But I think he always comes out and leads by example and sets the tone early. I think, offensively, we need him to do that, especially on this floor with their crowd and the way they play. We need him to set the tone early in all the games."
Animosity and edginess
Stephen Curry, who led the Warriors with 29 points in the opener, says his team will be more aggressive in keeping James from comfortable situations.
"We've got to be a little bit more aggressive," Curry said. "It just means doing things a little bit faster, a little bit more physical, and trying to make not just him but everybody else more uncomfortable out there to start the game. I think we can do that."
Draymond Green poked James in the right eye during a drive to the basket that the Cavs playmaker says looks worse than it hurts.
"There is going to be a little animosity and a little edginess," Curry said. "We're enjoying the competitive environment."
Big Cavs effort expected
A victory Sunday would put the Warriors halfway to their 3rd crown in 4 seasons, the other denied when Cleveland rallied from 3-1 down in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history.
"They might have been deflated, and they came back and won. So we're expecting another great effort from them," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
"We've been through this too many times. All we've done is win one, and we're on to the next one.
"We're right where we want to be and we're all very confident that we're going to get better from here."
Kerr, who said Warriors forward Andre Iguodala remains doubtful for Game 2 with a left leg injury, said limiting James would be a priority.
"I didn't think we made him work hard enough. I thought everything was smooth sailing for him," Kerr said. "We've got to put more pressure on him. We can't just sit back and let him pick us apart." – Rappler.com