LeBron James says being down in a series will provide him with extra motivation after Cleveland Cavaliers opened their playoff account with a loss to Indiana Pacers.
The Cavs hadn’t lost in the opening round in eight years but they were well beaten by Indiana on Sunday evening at the Quicken Loans Arena.
The Pacers opened up a 19-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back, with Victor Oladipo scoring a game-high 32 points.
James is seeking an eighth consecutive trip to an NBA Finals series and has never previously lost the opener in a first-round NBA post-season series.
The three-time NBA Finals MVP refused to be downbeat after the 98-80 loss however, and indicated being behind will motivate him further ahead of Game 2 on Thursday.
“I’m down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the finals [against Golden State in 2016 as the Cavs fought back to win 4-3].
So I’m the last guy to ask about what I’m gonna be like the next couple days,” James said.
Coach Tyronn Lue congratulated the Pacers after the game and urged his side to rediscover their intensity over the course of the remainder of the series.
He said: “You can’t ease into the play-offs. I thought [Indiana] came in and they attacked us.”
The Cavs are 1.22 to claim the victory on Thursday before the series heads to Indiana. The Pacers can be backed at 4.50 or 1.91 with a +7.5 handicap.