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Sport Despite his encouraging words, LeBron James knows the Cavaliers are in trouble

19:01  06 june  2018
19:01  06 june  2018 Source:   msn.com

Live Coverage of Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers Friday, May 25, 2018 on MSN SportsThe Cleveland Cavaliers face elimination against the Boston Celtics on Friday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. And no player is better when his back is against the wall than James.

James discussed on Tuesday the widely disseminated video from just after the end of regulation during Game 1, appearing resigned to his team's eventual fate. LeBron James Tuesday tried to shed some light on his state of mind right after this moment from Game 1 of the Finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James ’ eye is shown during the first half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Golden Tuesday, after some prodding and denials he knew it went viral to begin with, James opened up about the video, taking us inside his thoughts as he sat on

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This first appeared in the June 6 edition of The Washington Post’s NBA newsletter, the Monday Morning Post Up, NBA Finals edition. You can subscribe by clicking here.

CLEVELAND — While the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and the cavalcade of media following them during these NBA Finals made the trek from the Bay Area to Northeast Ohio Monday, a video surfaced of Cleveland’s bench during the crucial minutes between the end of regulation and the start of overtime in Game 1.

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If there was any doubt the disastrous end of regulation — with George Hill missing a potential game-winning free throw with 4.7 seconds remaining, only for J.R. Smith to grab the offensive rebound and run away from the basket — had an impact on Cleveland allowing Golden State to score nine straight points, they disappeared the second anyone saw the video.

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The footage features LeBron James, Hill and Smith sitting in silence for two-and-a-half minutes, save for one moment: James asking Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue if Cleveland had a timeout at the end of regulation. When Lue answers yes, James becomes distraught, and doesn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the break.

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Tuesday, after some prodding and denials he knew it went viral to begin with, James opened up about the video, taking us inside his thoughts as he sat on the bench and tried to process everything that had happened in those final seconds.

“I finally got Game 1 out of my head. You’re taking me back, huh?” he added with a smile. “Okay. Okay. Let me put myself back there.”

“I was sitting on the bench and kind of just contemplating the last couple seconds of what just happened,” James said. “From J.R. dribbling the ball out to G-Hill missing the free throw, actually seeing Draymond [Green] step in early on the lane violation. Asking myself did I have a lane to actually drive it if I didn’t. So there were a lot of things playing through my head. When the game clock went off before J.R. kind of threw the ball to G-Hill to the corner, I actually tried to call timeout. I believe it was Ed Malloy that was right there, our referee. I don’t know if I had enough time because I was kind of a little bit still in shock of what was going on at that point in time.”

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There’s a lot to unpack here.

For starters, James goes out of his way to point out the mistakes Hill and Smith made on the play, as well as tell the world he noticed what was later pointed out on the NBA’s Last Two Minute report: Green committed a lane violation on Hill’s miss, which should have resulted in another free throw.

He then said he tried to call timeout, which would make him the only player on the court to do so. But James added that, as he walked back to the bench, he wasn’t sure that not getting that timeout was a bad thing.

“I got to the bench, first thing that came to my mind I was like, okay, I was calling a timeout. But hopefully, I’m glad maybe if we didn’t have any, I’m glad they didn’t give it to me. I didn’t want another [Chris Webber] incident. If that happened, then they go to make their free throws and the game is over.”

But when Lue confirmed that the Cavaliers did, in fact, have a timeout, James’s body appeared to almost give out in a combination of frustration and anger at the way Cleveland had blown such a golden opportunity to open the Finals with a victory.

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“I asked our coaching staff if we had a timeout,” he said. “And they told me, yes. I guess y’all probably seen the reaction from that point on. It was just knowing that we had an opportunity to have another possession, even with the offensive rebound. It was just …”

James tailed off. Then, after a moment, he finished his sentence.

“It was just a heartbreaking loss.”

From the second the Cavs walked back out on the court, it was clear they didn’t have a chance in overtime. Golden State rattled off the first nine points of the period, and Cleveland looked frazzled. After seeing the video, it was easy to understand why.

That three-minute clip summed up the state of this series. The Warriors are flying high, winners of the first two games and massive favorites to emerge with their second straight title and third in four years. The Cavs, meanwhile, still feel like they’re trying to dig out of the hole created by blowing Game 1, even with two victories here at Quicken Loans Arena being enough to even the series.

James’s reaction led to a couple of criticisms. One was for the general lack of enthusiasm or encouragement from anyone on Cleveland’s roster — including assistant coaches or players — besides Kyle Korver and Jeff Green. The other was, not surprisingly, directed at James for not doing that himself.

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Jim , you know ever since I was a rookie or even in high school, we always talked, that was the number one thing for me: Help my teammates get better You know , at this point D Wade, he's the unselfish guy here. To be able to have Chris Bosh and then LeBron James , to welcome us to his team, it's not

James was having none of it.

“Me? Me being criticized? No. You’re saying I got criticized for something, right? I don’t believe that. Not me,” James said with a smile.

“I don’t care. I don’t care at all. I mean, we’re in the NBA Finals. I mean, how much more picking up of teammates do you want me to do? I’m in the NBA Finals, looking for a championship.”

The problem for James and the Cavaliers, though, is that their best chance to win a championship — or even make this series interesting — slipped away in those 4.7 seconds.

James, despite saying all the right things Tuesday, appeared to feel the same way.

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