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James doesn't 'feel good' about another 0-2 deficit to the Warriors

By JOE VARDON • Updated Jun 5, 2018 at 5:50 PM

CLEVELAND — More than any other game in the Finals over the last three years, Game 3 has belonged to LeBron James and the Cavs.

But it's Game 1 of this series, this year, that has been the hardest to shake.

A catastrophic final 36 seconds in regulation cost Cleveland a chance to steal Game 1 from the Warriors and shake up a series Golden State is heavily favored to win.

After the Cavs' litany of misfortune unfolded — if you're reading this, you know the refs, George Hill, and JR Smith all had a hand in it -- the Warriors won Game 1 in overtime, 124-114.

Golden State took Game 2, 122-103 on Sunday night, when video began to surface of James being devastated on the bench immediately following the events that forced overtime from the first game.

"Damn cameras," James quipped on Tuesday. "I finally got Game 1 out of my head. You're taking me back, huh?"

The footage, which went viral, shows James, Smith, and Hill on the bench with the game tied at 107. Hill missed a free throw, Smith rebounded it but dribbled out the clock rather than take a game-winning shot, and Draymond Green jumped into the lane early on Hill's miss. The Cavs had a timeout but didn't call it, though James half-heartedly tried to call one just before time expired.

Before all that, a questionable video replay of a charge against Kevin Durant was used to change the call to a block on James — which gave the Warriors a crack at free throws to tie the score.

James said he was contemplating all of that in the first moments on the bench, before he confirms with coach Tyronn Lue that the Cavs actually had a timeout left.

"I don't know if I had enough time because I was kind of a little bit still in shock of what was going on at that point in time," James said. "I got to the bench, first thing that came to my mind I was like, OK, I was calling a timeout. But hopefully, I'm glad maybe if we didn't have any, I'm glad they didn't give it to me. I didn't want another C-Webb [Chris Webber] incident.

"So I asked our coaching staff if we had a timeout," James continued. "And they told me, yes. I guess y'all probably seen the reaction from that point on."

He was crushed. As were the Cavs. Which is how they'll all be if they lose Game 3 again.

The Cavs have beaten Golden State twice in Game 3s over the last three years, including after losing the first two games of the 2016 Finals out in Oakland, Calif.

The two teams came to Cleveland for Game 3 last year with the Cavs trailing 0-2 in the series. The Cavs were ahead by six in that game with 3:09 left and never scored again. Kyle Korver missed a wide-open corner 3, Durant responded with a 3 in James' face and the Warriors won 118-113.

No team has ever won a Finals down 0-3, so for all intents and purposes the 2017 Finals ended that night.

It'll be curtains if the Cavs don't pull out a win Wednesday.

"I know it feels like we're down 2-0, and I don't like the way I feel," James said. "I don't like the way -- the mood that I'm in right now, knowing whatever. There's no, like, OK, you're down 2-0 and you feel better than when you're down 2-0 before.

"I mean, when you're down like this, in a deficit like this versus a team like this, there's no good feeling. So I don't feel good about it."

The Cavs already recovered from an 0-2 hole once this postseason, last round against the Celtics. James has done it three times in his career now — only 20 teams have come back from 0-2 deficits in the playoffs in 301 tries.

James is averaging 40 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 10.5 assists so far in this series.

"I don't feel good how I feel right now, not how I feel about the rest of the series," James continued. "I know how clips can get broken up and somebody can clip that and be like, 'oh, LeBron said he doesn't feel good.'

"I personally don't feel good today of the deficit that we have. Not about tomorrow. I feel great about our opportunity."

The Cavs have won their last eight home playoff games.

"We believe," Lue said. "We've seen some things that we can do. We played them well the first game. Game 2, all the way up until the last seven, eight minutes of the fourth quarter.

"They play well at home, we understand that," Lue continued. "We play well at home, too, so we're ready for the challenge."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Andre Iguodala (knee) was questionable for Game 3. He practiced Tuesday, and if he isn't cleared for Wednesday's game almost surely would play in Game 4.

The Cavs beat Golden State by 30 in Game 3 of the 2016 Finals.

"All three games (Game 3s) were really, really difficult," Kerr said. "We're used to the dynamic of being ahead in a series and then having everything shift when you go on the road.

"But especially when you play Cleveland. LeBron, this crowd and their environment, we know the kind of force they're going to bring. And we have to be prepared for that."

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