"Our last game against Golden State," James said, "you can kind of throw it in the trash."
James had just 16 points in the game, and Cleveland was never in the contest after trailing 34-21 heading into the second quarter. Although the Cavaliers sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 28-11 record, they've now lost two of three games and are 0-2 against the Warriors.
The four-time MVP has played in the past five NBA finals, but even he knows it takes more than just talent to get that far, per Berger:
When I [talk about] us playing at a championship level, that doesn't automatically guarantee us [playing] until June. It's all about the habits; I preach the habits more than anything. For me to look and say that we're going to represent the East in the Finals would be absurd. I don't really talk like that. That's not what I'm about.
I think we're a good team. But I don't think we're a great team right now. We've got to continue to get better. I really think it's absurd to think about May and June; it's not guaranteed, man. If we continue to win and put ourselves in position and we do make the playoffs, then we give ourselves a chance. ... But that doesn't guarantee you anything. One shot here, one shot there, a turnover here, a turnover there, can change a series. So for me, to focus on down that road when tomorrow isn't promised, I think, is absurd.
It's human nature to get complacent, and that could be what is happening with Cleveland. After a 33-win season in 2013-14, James came back to his home town and led his team to the finals, although the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in six games.
James is one of the best basketball players on Earth, but he's preaching patience in his second stint with the team, per Berger:
I experienced this in Miami, too. People want instant success. When guys come together, it's like instant oatmeal. Throw it in the microwave, in 30 seconds it's done and it's ready to go. It doesn't work that way. You need time and you need adversity together. You need hardships. You need times when you don't like each other. You need the worst of times in order to become really good. I've experienced that over my career.
Cleveland forward Kevin Love had some interesting comments following the loss, leading many to believe it was a thinly veiled swipe at James, per Bleacher Report:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Kevin Love believes it all starts with LeBron if the Cavs want to claim the throne https://t.co/Vh3Xb7ef5B2016-1-19 18:50:36
Any player of James' level is used to criticism, and it's likely he doesn't really care. All he is worried about is every player on his team giving his all to bring a championship to Cleveland, per Berger.
"It's about the drive and how insane you are about wanting to be great," he said. "I have a little insanity."
If Cleveland is going to come out of the East and beat the best the West has to offer, the Cavaliers are going to have to shake of these losses and focus on improving. It starts Wednesday night with a road game against the Brooklyn Nets before playing their next four games at home.
We'll soon see how well James and his teammates can learn to forget.