Heading into Sunday Night’s Game 3, the LA Lakers had taken control of the NBA Finals. Thanks to some heroics from Jimmy Butler, however, we still have a series. While holding a 2-1 lead is quite a bit different than being up-3-0, it doesn’t seem like LeBron James is too concerned about dropping a single game.
While no one in the Lakers’ locker room was happy about losing Game 3, no one is ready to panic just yet. LeBron James embodied that mindset, sending a confident message about his team’s chances during his postgame media availability.
The LA Lakers missed their chance to put a stranglehold on the NBA Finals
In a best of seven series, no one is going to complain about having any lead. The LA Lakers, however, missed their first chance to put the NBA Finals in a stranglehold on Sunday night.
LeBron James and company, of course, had jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat. The Lakers were rolling, and, with Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic still on the sidelines, it looked like the series could already be over. Jimmy Butler, however, had other plans.
With his team facing the prospects of an insurmountable 3-0 deficit, Butler stepped up and put the Heat on his back. He recorded a triple-double, posting 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists on the night, leading Miami to a much-needed win.
That result means that, if nothing else, the NBA Finals won’t be a sweep. The series continues on Tuesday, October 6, with the Heat looking to level things at two games apiece.
LeBron James isn’t worried about the Lakers’ chances
It goes without saying that LeBron James wants to win every time he hits the hardwood. Despite leaving the court a few seconds early during Sunday night’s defeat, however, he didn’t sound too concerned about the Lakers’ championship chances.
“I don’t ever feel like we let our guard down,” LeBron explained, according to ESPN’s Dave McMeniman. “Also, I don’t feel like we’re concerned. We’re not concerned. We know we can play a lot better. We have another opportunity to take a commanding lead on Tuesday. You relish that opportunity.”
Anthony Davis, who, on an individual level, struggled during Game 3, took a similar stance in defeat.
“Trust me,” the big man said. “We’ll be fine.”
Are LeBron James and Anthony Davis right to be confident?
As any sports fan can tell you, sending confident messages through the media can be a risky choice; even if they don’t become bulletin board material, those comments will still look stupid if results don’t pan out. LeBron James and the LA Lakers, however, seem perfectly entitled to be “not concerned.”
Barring Game 3, King James and Anthony Davis have looked like an unstoppable duo; there’s a reason why most pundits and analysts were giving the Lakers an advantage heading into the series. The Heat’s injury issues aren’t going to magically disappear, either. While Bam Adebayo could return at some point, Goran Dragic’s foot injury is a bit more serious. Even if the Slovenian pulled a Willis Reed and returned to the bench, you can’t expect him to do much on the court.
If you prefer more statistical analysis, the Lakers seem comfortably ahead from that perspective, too. Even after Game 3, 538 gives LA a 69% chance of lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the rest of the LA Lakers sent all of the right messages on Sunday night. Now, they’ll have to back it up on the court and close out the series.