LeBron believes Cavaliers can repeat
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP):
LeBron James quickly moved past Cleveland's disjointed regular season, an uphill, 82-game slog of injuries, roster upheaval and drama.
Reflection can wait.
James understands that the Cavaliers appear vulnerable, perhaps beatable, as they enter the NBA play-offs following a recent tailspin. However, he feels the grind may help the Cavs and maybe even give them an edge.
"Through everything that went on with our team, we're in a position where we can do something special still," he said Thursday as Cleveland prepared to face Indiana in the opening round today. "We have a chance to win it all."
Why so optimistic, LeBron?
Leaning against a padded wall in Cleveland's practise facility, James smiled sheepishly.
"I've got the answer," he said. "I'm not giving it to you. But I've got the answer why I feel like we've got a great chance."
It's no secret.
The Cavs have a chance to win a championship because they have James, and with James, all is possible.
With six straight visits to the Finals on his rÈsumÈ, James knows his way around the playoffs better than any player in the league, and maybe better than anyone in history. After all, he's won titles with two teams, snatched a road win in 25 consecutive series and takes a 40-17 record in first-round games into this series with the Pacers, a team he's battled in postseasons before.
James doesn't know how to be anything but confident. It's in his DNA.
But there's genuine concern about these Cavaliers, who staggered down the stretch. They lost their final four regular-season games - one to an Atlanta team resting all its starters - and surrendered the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to Boston. Cleveland went just 23-23 after January 10 and the Cavs have been ranked in the bottom third statistically on defence all season.
They are defending champions in name only.
Injuries, too, have played a role in Cleveland's fragmented, and some would say disappointing season, as 22 players have shuffled in and out of coach Tyronn Lue's rotations and the club was forced to go long stretches without key players like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver.
If it's true that adversity builds character, the Cavs may be a lot are stronger than they appear.
They are healthier than they've been in months, and James said that's all that matters now.
"At the end of the day, I'm not going to harp on what happened in the regular season through injuries, through bad losses, through good wins, through whatever the case may be," he said. "We have a good club going into the postseason. That's all you can ask for."