NBA

LeBron James Is Still Haunted by an NBA Finals Shortcoming

LeBron James, alongside Anthony Davis, guided the LA Lakers to a Game 1 win in the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat. It was a strong performance that saw them move to a comfort series-opening victory. However, one aspect from the situation firmly stood out as another remainder for James of a nightmarish incident from several years ago in the NBA Finals.

LeBron James, Lakers take a convincing Game 1 win

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There was plenty of hype around Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Lakers and the Heat, which quickly turned into a one-sided affair.

Miami grabbed a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but LA responded with a strong push to take a three-point lead into the second quarter. From that point, they took control behind their shooting from beyond the arc, hitting 13 of their first 19 attempts.

Meanwhile, the Heat had no answer for Anthony Davis defensively, especially after star big man Bam Adebayo exited the game due to a shoulder strain. It also didn’t help that veteran guard Goran Dragic suffered a torn plantar fascia that could keep him out of the rest of the series.

It was a strong collective effort from the Lakers that significantly shifted the tide in their favor in a comfortable Game 1 win.

LeBron James is still bothered by the Game 2 loss in the 2011 NBA Finals

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Although it was a strong showing for the Lakers, the Heat did cut into their massive lead in the fourth quarter dwindling it to 15 points. It saw LeBron James and Anthony Davis remain in the game to help maintain that double-digit cushion.

What drove James to stay in the contest late in the fourth quarter was a previous nightmarish experience in the 2011 NBA Finals. It saw the Heat, led by James, lose a double-digit lead late in regulation in Game 2 against the Dallas Mavericks that turned the tide of the series, according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

“One in particular that always rings home for me is Game 2 of the 2011 Finals in Miami versus Dallas. D-Wade hits a three right by their bench. I believe it put us up either 13 or 17. From that moment on, Dallas went on a hell of a run and finished it off with a Dirk Nowitzki left-hand layup to steal that game.”

James continued: “That [expletive] burns me to this day. I always talk about the best teacher in life is experience, and I’ve experienced a lot. That’s what prompts me to be who I am today, is being able to have those experiences.”

The game that James referenced was one that saw the Heat let a potential 2-0 series lead slip out of their hands. It’s something that changed the dynamic of that NBA Finals and gave the Mavericks, led by Dirk Nowitzki, the confidence they needed to win the NBA title in six games.

Although it occurred nine years ago, it still clearly drives James in this situation and further hammers away the point that the job isn’t done.

Game 2 stiff challenges ahead against the Heat

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The Lakers may have grabbed early control of the series behind a strong showing in Game 1, but LeBron James and the rest of the team haven’t shown any comfort.

Their mindset remains on the more significant task of getting three more wins against a tough Heat team. Miami may be a bit dinged up with injuries to Dragic, Adebayo, and Jimmy Butler, but they have shown plenty of resilience throughout the playoffs.

There will be a stronger push for them in Game 2 as they look to even up the series in what will be an early pivotal game. Meanwhile, the Lakers will have to continue to shoot the ball well, as it will be interesting to see if their hot shooting from 3-point range can continue moving forward.

The Lakers may have the early advantage, but it’s a matchup that will have many more tough challenges ahead from the Heat that could see things shift.