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.