LeBron staying 'even-keeled' despite end of first-round streak
A first opening-round playoff loss since 2012 stirred no panic for LeBron James, who believes the Cleveland Cavaliers' 98-80 defeat to the Indiana Pacers will be a learning experience for his less seasoned team-mates.
James scored 24 points in 44 minutes and registered a triple-double for the Cavs on Sunday, but could not prevent them from falling 1-0 behind in the best-of-seven series as the Pacers rolled to an impressive road victory behind 32 points from Victor Oladipo.
But James saw little reason to lose his calm following the loss, pointing to the 3-1 deficit the Cavs faced in the 2016 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors as a considerably more dire situation that they ultimately turned around.
James said: "I've always stayed even-keeled with the postseason. I mean, I'm down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So I'm the last guy to ask about how you're going to feel the next couple days."
However, James does not have the support of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, now with the Boston Celtics, with this Cavs team markedly different from the one that stunned the Warriors in the second of their three successive Finals meetings.
Jordan Clarkson made his playoff debut while Rodney Hood started in the postseason for the first time in his career.
But James believes the defeat can be a positive for those players less familiar with the playoffs as the Cavs aim to wrest the title back from the Warriors.
"Experience is the best teacher, and they got it today," James said. "I think everybody is going to be a lot more calm and a lot more precise in what we want to do, too. So it's definitely a feel-out game."
Asked why the Cavs suffered a reverse that ended his 21-game winning streak in the first round, James replied: "I think the intensity. How much different a regular-season game is compared to a postseason game. It happens that fast. You always hear people say in the regular season, sometimes it's a 'playoff-type atmosphere'. Eh, you can't simulate that. You can't simulate that speed. You can't simulate what's going on out there.
"So today was definitely a good test for some of our younger guys, and like I said, I think they'll be a lot better, especially in game two. And not just them. Even the older guys as well.
"Some of the guys even with experience, including myself, I can be a lot better as well. So we take it as everybody has to dig deep and not lose two of them on our home floor."
Cleveland host Indiana again in game two on Wednesday.