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June 6, 2018

LeBron James

Cleveland, Ohio: Game Three

Warriors - 110, Cavaliers - 102

Q. The core of this Cavs team has remained consistent for the last few years, but you've got a lot of new teammates on this team from a few months ago. Are you confident that your teammates can mentally reset after this tough loss and be where they need to be for Game 4?
LEBRON JAMES: I mean, it's definitely a tough loss, and we had our chances. But we have another opportunity on Friday to win on our home floor. We've been pretty good throughout the postseason.

So that's a good thing for us that we have an opportunity to extend the series, but we've got to come out and play 48 minutes. We know this team that we're going against are the best -- first of all, the best third quarter team in the NBA, and once again they showed that tonight by outscoring us by 8 after we had a lead at halftime.

So we have to be dialed in and play like we did in the first half and in the fourth quarter tonight.

Q. You twisted your ankle pretty badly there in the first half. How is that feeling? And Kevin Love was just in here and he talked about the margin of error being so small with the Warriors, especially in Game 1 and Game 3. But how does that give you guys confidence going forward knowing how close you actually were to win those games?
LEBRON JAMES: To answer your second question first, the margin of error is very low. You can't -- I mean, it's almost like playing the Patriots, you can't have mistakes. They're not going to beat themselves. You know, so when you're able to either force a miscue on them, you have to be able to capitalize and you have to be so in tuned and razor sharp and focused every single possession. You can't have miscommunication, you can't have flaws, you can't have "my faults" or "my bads" or things like that, because they're going to make you pay. When they make you pay, it's a 3-0 or 6-0 or 9-0 run, and it comes in bunches.

The room for error, you just can't have it. We know throughout the course of a 48-minute game there are going to be plays where, you know, it was a miscue there, it was a miscue there. But for the most part throughout 48 minutes you just can't have a bunch of those, not especially against this team.

To answer your first question, yeah, I twisted it pretty good, but I'll be in the lineup on Friday.

Q. Two questions and both are bigger picture. Now that you've been in this series with Durant and the Warriors now twice, can you articulate just how Durant has changed the complexion of this series and rivalry?
LEBRON JAMES: Oh, well, I mean, you guys ask me what is the difference between the Warriors -- you guys asked me this last year, what was the difference between the Warriors the previous year and this year, and what was my answer? All right. There it is. Kevin Durant was my answer.

He's one of the best players that I've ever played against that this league has ever seen. His ability to handle the ball, shoot the ball, make plays at his length, his size, his speed. So there it is.

Q. The other one, I understand you guys are down 3-0, but you've been very close twice, and they almost lost in the Western Finals. So the question is are they at all maybe more vulnerable than you thought they were earlier in the year, mid-year, something like that?
LEBRON JAMES: At the end of the day, if you want to compete for a championship or win a championship, you've got to go through the champion, and they're the champion. No matter -- everyone gets so caught up on saying they're vulnerable or they're not playing so well, and then they go down 3-2, and then they go to somebody else's floor and win. Or they win at home and send it back to somebody else's floor and win in a Game 7.

That's what championship teams do. That's what championship players do. They rise to the occasion, and that's what Golden State has done the last four years.

Q. Even for someone like you who notoriously can have singular focus on one thing more often than not, how difficult will the next 48 hours be to just lock in on Game 4 and not think about how 1 and 3 got away or what might happen this summer? How tough would it be for you to stay in this moment?
LEBRON JAMES: Tim, for me, tonight will be tough. Tomorrow I'll replay some plays and some moments and things of that nature. When I wake up Friday morning I'll be locked in on the game plan of what needs to be done to help our team win. That's just who I am.

So the rest of the night will be tough. I'm not sure what time I'll end up getting to bed. Tomorrow we'll come in and watch film, so it will replay in my mind throughout the day. But Friday morning when I wake up, I'll be locked in and ready for Game 4.

Q. Do you just tip your hat when K.D. makes the same shot from the left wing he made in Game 3 last year? And how difficult is the shot? He may make it look pretty attainable, but how difficult a shot is that?
LEBRON JAMES: No, that wasn't the same shot. The one he made tonight was about four or five feet behind the one he made last year. Last year we were up 2, and he pulled up pretty much right at the three-point line and got a great contest, but he made it.

Tonight they're up 3. They come off a pick-and-roll and he just stopped behind and pulled four or five feet behind the three-point line. So same wing, different location.

But you definitely tip your hat. I mean, that's what he does. He's a scorer. You know, he's assassin, and that was one of those assassin plays right there.

Q. Last game Steph goes off, an NBA Finals record, nine threes. This time you hold him to 1 of 10 and another guy goes off. Defensively what can you do to stop enough of them to a degree that you can have more points than they at the end of the game? Also, could you speak to Rodney Hood's contributions tonight?
LEBRON JAMES: That's the challenge right there. That's the challenge. You know, that's why they've retooled this team, went out and got K.D. to where there's really not much pressure on -- you know, I won't say any of them to score, but if one of them has a bad game, they have three or four guys that can actually pick up the load.

And as you've seen with K.D. picking it up today and Steph picking it up in Game 2, they all have the ability to -- we can't ever forget about Klay. He's a guy that scored 40 in a quarter before. So that's the luxury of having guys like that that you can always -- any given moment, they can kind of go off for a game.

Even though we held Steph to one three tonight, the one he made was huge, huge. So we've got to continue to just grind and defend as we did tonight. I mean, out of the nine threes made, K.D. had six of them. They were 9 for 36. And that's, you know, pretty daggone good, holding that team to shooting to the free-throw line. But we've got to add a little bit more, keep grinding.

To your second question, I thought Rodney Hood was Rodney Hood tonight. That was Rodney Hood, man. He was just aggressive from the beginning when he got in the game, even though he missed his first three. He had a wide-open shot, but he just continued to push and push.

His athleticism and his length and his touch around the rim, you know, it was more than just what he did for the team, I think for himself, that was just a huge moment for himself. That was good to see. That was great to see, actually.

Q. Knowing that you had that tremendous recall of moments in games, can you describe what was in your mind both tonight and last year when Kevin Durant launched that shot from the wing?
LEBRON JAMES: I actually think you should be like a psychiatrist. You want to keep trying to get inside somebody's mind, is the whole thing, Mark.

What's in my mind? Miss it so we can get the rebound.

Q. Did it feel like last year to you? Did you think of it at that moment?

Q. Going back to the margin for error thing, when you're playing against a team like the Warriors, how much stress do you feel throughout the course of the game? Is that something that can wear on you mentally in a way that it doesn't for other opponents?
LEBRON JAMES: Say that again, please?

Q. The margin for error, knowing that it's small going into a game. Can you talk about the level of stress that you feel throughout the course of a game knowing that, and does it wear on you mentally in a way that it wouldn't with other opponents?
LEBRON JAMES: Well, I can take you back kind of to the battles I had with the Spurs when I was in Miami. You just knew that they wouldn't beat themselves. You just knew that like every possession we were playing San Antonio when I was in Miami, you just knew if you made a mistake, Manu, Tim, Tony, Pop will make you pay. At times they did make us pay, and then you sprinkle in what Gary Neal did to us one game, what Danny Green did to us one game. Then Kawhi, you just couldn't -- you could never relax.

When you have great basketball players but also that can also think the game and be very cerebral about the game, that's what adds the level of stress, because you know that you can never, ever relax.

And you should never want to relax. It's The Finals. It's the playoffs. Even though this is a regular season game, you should always want to be on your toes. That's what the part of competition is about. So it adds to the level of stress.

When you have Timmy D. and Manu and Kawhi and Manu, and now Draymond and Klay, Steph and K.D., and then you sprinkle in Iguodala and Livingston and all those guys as well, it adds a level of stress. Because you know that you can never relax. You know if you relax, they make you pay, and making you pay could cost you a game.

So it's tough, but it's all part of the competition, which I love and which I continue to lace them up every night.

Hopefully I got your answer for you. Appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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