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:
|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 Curry–Draymond Green–Klay 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.