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June 11, 2017

LeBron James

Oakland, California: Practice Day

Q. After Game 3, you were talking about guys had to play A plus plus game to beat this team. Do you feel like you played A plus plus game last game?
LEBRON JAMES: I think we have to bring our best game every game against this team. Like I said before, they create so many different problems out on the floor, so much firepower, that we always have to play great in order to win. So we have to do that tomorrow night as well.

Q. If you think back to 2012, the first time you and K.D. faced off in The Finals and what you see now, how different is he individually and how different is just the context of the kind of team he's playing with now versus what was obviously a pretty young Thunder team?
LEBRON JAMES: I think the difference is that they were just a younger team. I think we had a little bit more experience. Obviously we had a couple guys that had already won championships. Derek Fisher maybe had been the only guy, or Perk [Kendrick Perkins]. So they had a couple guys that won championships too, but I think Russ [Westbrook] and K.D. and James [Harden] were just younger.

I think, like I always tell you guys with my personal experience, experience is the best teacher. Then you're able to align his experience that he's had over his career since 2012 with Steph, Klay, Draymond and this organization. It excels your experience as well. So that's definitely helped.

Q. Are you guys on each other a lot more in this series than you would have been? I assume you guys are on each other a lot more now?
LEBRON JAMES: We have been on each other a lot throughout these first four games. It's probably going to stay that way, especially tomorrow, and we'll see what happens after that.

Q. Is it even possible to overstate how much more of a challenge it is playing a Game 5 in the NBA Finals when the other team has Draymond and K.D., unlike last year?
LEBRON JAMES: It's the same challenges. Especially being in this building. We knew coming into the Game 5 last year if we don't protect the ball, we don't limit their three-point shooting, then we can get blown out the window and blown out of this arena.

It's the same way. If we don't protect the three-point line and if we turn the ball over, then we don't stand a chance. So we know what our keys to victory is. That's going to give us the best possible chance to go back home with a Game 6. And if we don't stick to stick to that game plan, then we'll be going back home without a game.

Q. Game 4 aside, Stephen Curry's had a great Playoffs, great Finals. What have you seen this year as compared to last year when he kind of struggled it seemed as the Playoffs went along? How aware were you that he was struggling last year?
LEBRON JAMES: It's never been my concern about who's been struggling or who's been playing well. We have keys, and our keys is to limit certain guys. You can't take away everything from great players, and Steph is one of those players. You can't take away everything, just try to make it tough on them.

Like I said the last years, the year before, the beginning of this series, you have to try to make it tough on him. He's going to make shots. He's going to make plays not only for himself but for his teammates. Just try to make it tough on him, and you can live with the results.

Q. The last time you were right here, same situation, down 3-1, similar colors you were wearing last year as well. Does anything come to your mind, like any memories come to your mind about that time at that juncture?
LEBRON JAMES: No, not really. It's different for me. It's always been a different experiences and different challenges. And for me it's just trying to get my mind focused on the game tomorrow. Which I will. We'll have a great practice today. We'll go over some things that we need to do better in Game 5, and then it's just going out and play. I put in the homework. I've got my mind ready for these games. I got my body prepared. And if I leave everything out on the floor, then I'm happy with the results.

Q. When Kyrie is going the way he has been the last couple games, how does that open up things for the rest of the offense?
LEBRON JAMES: We love how aggressive Kyrie's been, and it's been great for our team, obviously, with his individual ability to make shots and to take big shots and to knock them down. That's been key for our team. And for the rest of us, we have to do everything else. We have to defend, rebound, set screens for him. We have to get him looks when he's got it going. We have to set great screens for him to get him going and things of that nature. So we hopefully can continue that tomorrow.

Q. What do you think of the job R.J. has done on K.D. in this series? His minutes seem to be going up every night. And what does that change for you defensively and how does that allow you to play defensively when R.J. takes Kevin?
LEBRON JAMES: You have to give great scorers different looks. If you give K.D. and Steph a steady diet of the same guy every single possession, then they're going to figure it out. They are already great, so they're going to figure it out even more.

So to be able to just put different bodies on K.D. -- myself, R.J., Swish [J.R. Smith] at times, Shump as well; the same with Steph, Kyrie and Swish and myself and Shump, and give him different looks, just to try to keep him off balance as much as you can. But I think R.J.'s done a great job and he's just stuck to the game plan.

K.D.'s obviously an exceptional offensive player, exceptional player, and he's going to make big shots. He's going to take shots, but just got to try to make it tough on him and limit it as much as you can.

Q. You touched on earlier about turnovers and guarding the three-point line and all that. The three games here this year have not been close. You've lost all three by double figures, but obviously you won the two here in the Playoffs last year, so how much stock do you put in the first three games here in this building this season and how much do you rely on winning two playoff games here last year?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't put any on any regular-season game this year. They're not the same team. We don't prepare the same way. I don't put anything on the regular-season game. But we didn't play well in Game 1 or Game 2. So we have watched the film, we see what we didn't do well. And if you don't do something well, they will make you pay for it. So we have to be 20 times better in this building, and we understand that.

Q. You told us The Finals are a stressful experience to go through. Getting that one win under your belt, does that change the pressure at all? Does it change kind of the mental makeup of your team going into Game 5?
LEBRON JAMES: Not for me. The Playoffs is stressful and just the preparation, things of that nature, but that's just from how I prepare. There's no added stress going on playing basketball. Your coaching staff giving you a game plan, you just try to execute it. There's no added stress of that.

If you're able to get a win or get two, get three, get four, you don't win, I guess I've been a part of all of it. I don't think you have more stress. You know what you need to do. If you're prepared, then you're prepared. There's no reason to add more to it.

Q. The Warriors obviously just came through here and listening to them they sounded a lot like you guys after Game 1. They just said over and over again about how poorly they felt they played. Was that your takeaway at all from Game 4, that the Warriors were less than what they are, and what do you expect to see from them tomorrow night?
LEBRON JAMES: I just think we stick to our keys in Game 4. We stuck to our keys. That is all I can say. I don't think they played poorly. I think they came in with a game plan and we came in with a game plan and we happened to get that one. I don't think we played poorly in Game 3. But they just played better than us and they got that one. So for us if we come in with our mindset of the game plan that our coaching staff will give us, we stick to it as close to 48 minutes as possible. And does it give you a win? No, but it gives us the best shot.

Q. Do you feel like they feel like this is the game they have to get?
LEBRON JAMES: No, I feel like this is the game we got to get. Or it's over with. I think everybody's feeling that way.

Q. Did you guys feel like JR had to shoot more, he had to score more points to beat this team? And have you passed the ball off the backboard to yourself before?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, JR is a big piece of your offensive package and our defensive package. We just feel like when he gets looks, he needs to take them. And he's done that the last few games. He's come up big for us offensively. We have needed everything from him.

I've passed the ball off the backboard to myself before and, yeah, I've done it before. I don't have anything else to say about that.

Q. Back in the day people were shocked, I think [Tom] Heinsohn was maybe the first one to do it.
LEBRON JAMES: Oh, that's a while ago.

Q. But nobody had seen it before. They were laughing about it.
LEBRON JAMES: That's good.

Q. You said last week you thought the Warriors team coming together was good for basketball, the way that they have put their team together. Do you have any sense, knowing the history of the game, that people are perceiving this differently for some reason? Because there's always been great teams put together in NBA history?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I can see it from both sides. Not going to exactly give you my opinion on how I can see it from both sides. I will at some point in my career. I'm not at that point right now because I know what I say kind of gets -- people take it the wrong way. So I have my opinion on how people see it from both sides, and I have pretty good knowledge about it. So a few years from now I'll tell you how I really feel about the whole situation.

But they're a great team. They're assembled as good as you can be as a professional team, and they're on a quest to win a championship. You can respect that.

Q. They're adding three-on-three to the Olympics, and I just was hoping to get your quick thoughts on that and whether you would ever consider playing that and any other thoughts?
LEBRON JAMES: First of all, I think it's great for basketball. For us to be able to add another category to the Olympics, another basketball category, I think it's pretty great. I haven't seen the full layout of how they plan on executing it and are they going to use NBA guys are they going to use college guys. I'm not quite sure.

I'm not very good in a three-on-three thing. I'm more of a five-on-five guy. I stay out of the one-on-one matchups during our practice, the two-on-twos and the three-on-threes.

So probably not. I probably won't be a part of the three-on-three matchup that it has to offer.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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