LeBron James’ teams have been atypically resilient. Will these Cavaliers?


Since LeBron James entered the NBA, teams that lost Game 1 on the road have won the series just 17% of the time.

LeBron’s teams have won in such situations 50% of the time – including, of course, last year’s NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers again face that deficit after dropping Game 1 of the Finals to the Warriors last night. Will LeBron again rally his team from a 1-0 hole without home-court advantage?

His history in such situations:

Series Team Opponent Game 1 Result
2017 NBA Finals Cavaliers Warriors 113-91 ?
2016 NBA Finals Cavaliers Warriors 104-89 Won in 7
2015 NBA Finals Cavaliers Warriors 108-100 Lost in 6
2014 NBA Finals Heat Spurs 110-95 Lost in 5
2014 conference finals Heat Pacers 107-96 Won in 6
2012 NBA Finals Heat Thunder 105-94 Won in 5
2011 conference finals Heat Bulls 103-82 Won in 5
2008 second round Cavaliers Celtics 76-72 Lost in 7
2007 NBA Finals Cavaliers Spurs 85-76 Lost in 4
2007 conference finals Cavaliers Pistons 79-76 Won in 6
2006 second round Cavaliers Pistons 113-86 Lost in 7

That’s an incredible record. LeBron has even overcome a Game 1 pounding similar to the 22-point beat-down Golden State laid on Cleveland yesterday, winning four straight over the Bulls after losing Game 1 by 21 in 2011. He also pushed the Pistons to seven games in 2006 after losing Game 1 by 27.

But this feels different.

LeBron was the best player in most of those series, and his teams’ turnarounds revolved around that fact. But Kevin Durant was the best player in Game 1, and the way the Warriors flustered LeBron offensively and exposed him defensively, Durant might remain the best player on the floor. Just three years removed from winning MVP, Durant sets a high bar.

In some of those series, LeBron’s team was superior but didn’t care enough about the regular season to secure home-court advantage. That’s not the case against the Kevin Durant-Stephen CurryDraymond GreenKlay Thompson Warriors. The 51-win Cavs wouldn’t have caught 67-win Golden State if they tried.

But Warriors were probably superior to the Cavaliers last year, and LeBron still made it happen. So, maybe he can inspire another comeback this year.

He’ll have to play better. His teammates will have to play better. It’s asking a lot.

At least the past provides reason for confidence.

Kyrie Irving, any regrets about using profanity toward fan? “Hell no.”

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Fans yelling obscenities at NBA players and trying to goad them into a response — always while camera phones are recording — has become a thing. DeMarcus Cousins will be paying $25,000 for responding to a fan cursing at him in Memphis.

Kyrie Irving is likely going to get fined for an incident Friday night after the Celtics knocked off the Sixers in Philadephia. It made the rounds on social media Friday night, with a fan yelling at Irving as he leaves the court “Kyrie, where’s LeBron?” and Irving responding with a crude phrase. Here is the exchange as Irving leaves the court (NOTE: The language is NSFW, if offended don’t watch the video).

Saturday Irving was asked about the incident, and he admitted he should have bit his tongue, but he has no regrets, as reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“Hell no,” Irving said (when asked if he had regrets). “Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s the social media platform we live on.

Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”

Irving also addressed the bigger issue, something Cousins discussed when talking about his fine. Via Chris Forsberg at ESPN.

“At the end of the day, we’re human. It’s in heat of the moment and frustrations arise, we were at halftime, we were down by 4, in an environment, a season-opener in Philly. Being with a young team like we have here and staying composed, handling that before we go in the locker room and addressing what we have to do in the locker room and going out and handling business and getting the W, that’s really the only thing that matters to me.

“It’s up to the league at this point. But, like I said, I’m going to take full responsibility for what I said. I don’t have any regrets for it.”

Irving is going to get fined. The league has issues with its players cursing at fans. Understandably.

That said, the league may need to step back on consider situations like this. If fans are taunting players, at what point should a player be able to respond to the fan? Should arena security (at the request of the officials, or maybe a player) intervene? Players should not be asked to bite their tongue no matter what is said, and even if a fan paid for a ticket it doesn’t give them the right to cross any line. As more fans seem to go after their 15 minutes of social media fame baiting players, the league may need to reconsider where it draws its lines.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.