LeBron James Knows a Game 1 NBA Finals Win Doesn't Mean Much
The Los Angeles Lakers fought through an early Miami Heat burst in the first quarter of Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals and eventually won by a comfortable margin. They now have a 1-0 lead, and Miami's three best players all went down with some type of injury last night. As things currently stand, it does not seem like it will be a very close series if the Lakers take care of business.
These Lakers are also an unusual LeBron James team because there aren't many players with actual championship experience. LeBron himself, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo, and Danny Green are the only four on the roster who have won a ring. Dwight Howard has been to a Finals, but that was a decade ago. For Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and everybody else in the rotation, this is all very new.
So LeBron took the time last night to remind them they still have a long way to go, even after a blowout win in the opening game of the series. Per Yahoo's Chris Haynes:
"Davis, Howard and some players on the Lakers’ bench began making the glasses gesture again as they walked to their bench. James didn’t let this celebratory occurrence slide this time. “Hey, hey! Stop it! Stay locked in!” he shouted at his teammates before entering the huddle. “This s--- ain't over, man.” The Lakers easily finished their mission in Game 1. Before the final buzzer sounded, James walked over to each of his teammates and congratulated them on striking first, but also reminding them that they need three more wins."
Given this is LeBron's 10th Finals appearance, he understands how hard it is to win a championship. But he especially knows how little Game 1 can mean in the grand scheme of it all after a decade's worth of Finals runs.
As you have been and will be constantly reminded until the Finals are over, LeBron is 3-6 in his NBA Finals appearances. In two of his three wins (2012 and 2016), LeBron lost Game 1. In 2011, his Heat team won Game 1 before blowing a huge lead in Game 2 and ultimately losing the series, which he specifically referenced last night.
Game 1 often gives a good indication of how the series might go, but it's certainly not a death knell for the Heat, nor is it a sign the Lakers can sleepwalk to Game 4 and start fitting the rings. LeBron wanted to remind his teammates of that, and he certainly did.