LeBron James Talks Lance Stephenson, Cavaliers Loss to Pacers in Game 1

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 15:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the second half while playing the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 15, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Indiana won the game 98-80 to take a 1-0 series lead. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James isn't sweating a one-game deficit to the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

Following the Cavs' 98-80 defeat, James told reporters he has "always stayed even-keeled with the postseason" and alluded to Cleveland's comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals. NBA TV shared James' comments:

The four-time MVP also talked about Lance Stephenson, who continued to be a meddlesome presence for James. He praised Stephenson's work (12 points, five rebounds) off the bench:

While James and his Cavaliers teammates shouldn't hit the panic button after one game, Sunday's lopsided defeat didn't come out of nowhere.

Cleveland dropped three of its four games against Indiana in the regular season, and the Cavaliers finished with the second-worst defensive rating (109.5) in the league this year, per NBA.com. Unlike last year, the Cavs don't have Kyrie Irving's instant offense to help mask any defensive cracks, either.

Sunday's game highlighted issues that have plagued Cleveland all season. The team couldn't stop Victor Oladipo, and there wasn't a player who could shoulder the offensive burden besides James. Kevin Love had just eight shot attempts.

In the first three years after James re-signed with the team, the Cavaliers lost five combined games in the first three rounds of the playoffs. Assuming Cleveland rights the ship enough to advance past the Pacers, this postseason is likely to present the Cavs with their toughest road to the NBA Finals since James' return.

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