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NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: PACERS v HEAT


June 3, 2013


LeBron James


MIAMI, FLORIDA: Game Seven

Indiana Pacers - 76
Miami Heat - 99


Q. ¬†LeBron, there were some questions during the series about the support system here, Chris struggling, Dwyane struggling, Ray couldn't hit a shot.¬† What does it feel like to get Dwyane back to being Dwyane, Chris hitting the boards, Ray making three three‑pointers?¬† How much easier does it make it on you?¬† How much better does it make the team?
LeBRON JAMES:  I mean, obviously we're a much better team when we have everyone clicking at the same time.  That's obvious.  And we've had more games where everyone was clicking than not so.  It just happened that this series guys were just not in the rhythm, not feeling like themselves.
Hey, you save it to the last game, and it allows us to advance, then I'm okay with that.

Q.  LeBron, I know you read a game, early in this game it did seem like you were kind of allowing your teammates to get into it a little bit until you started to see some openings.  Go through your strategy a little bit about what you were trying to do there.
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Absolutely.¬† The first play of the game I called a play for D‑Wade.¬† Even though he didn't shoot the ball, he got a good touch in the paint.¬† Just to make him feel like he was a part of the offense, make him feel in a good rhythm.¬† I called a couple of sets for him early in the game, just to get a feel for it.¬† And it showed throughout the whole game that he was in the rhythm.¬† He started to make lay‑ups, he started to attack, he started to make his free throws.¬† So it was big time.

Q.  LeBron earlier Spo said no one remembers the easy wins, the sweeps.  People remember the Game 7s.  What's your mindset attacking a Game 7?  And how important is it for big players to step up in big moments?
LeBRON JAMES:  This is what it's all about.  I dreamed about opportunities like this as a kid to have a Game 7, no matter at home or on the road.  And that game allows you to advance to The Finals.  I have had multiple dreams about it.  To see a dream become a reality, I'm just very blessed.  Our team is blessed.  And we're just happy that we are able to represent the Eastern Conference in The Finals.

Q.¬† High‑caliber athlete, is this always a prove‑it factor?¬† You have to prove it?¬† You have to do it in these situations?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I guess that's what it is.¬† That's the notion that high‑caliber players need to step up and play at the highest level in Game 7s.¬† I've been blessed to do‑‑ to be pretty good in Game 7s in my career.

Q.  LeBron, how soon did you start thinking about the Spurs?  And considering that was the team you faced the first time in The Finals, how much of an incentive is it to show your growth since then?
LeBRON JAMES:  Well, I'm not going to take this win for granted.  I'm definitely going to savor this win tonight.  This league is so hard to win in.  It's so hard to advance, that you can't take these moments for granted.
So tonight I'm definitely going to savor this for my friends and my family.¬† And deciding what we do as a team tomorrow, I'll start to get back into the books and get back into the film on a team that's very good, very disciplined, well coached.¬† They've got a bunch of Hall‑of‑Famers.
So I look forward to the challenge, but I'm not quite there yet mentally, because I'm not going to take it for granted what we were able to accomplish tonight.

Q.  LeBron, five points separated you guys through six games going into tonight.  When you checked out with five minutes left and it was 25 or 28 or whatever it was, just how stunning was that this one wasn't down to the wire, like you guys probably deep down might have thought it could have been?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† We came in with the mindset just stay at the task at hand.¬† We can't worry about the reward.¬† We can't worry about trying to advance.¬† We just have to worry about every possession.¬† For the first time I believe in this series‑‑ probably in Game 3 as well‑‑ we just focused on every possession.¬† Try to get stops.¬† Try not to turn the ball over.¬† Get shots.¬† And play Miami Heat defense.¬† Create havoc.¬† And I thought we did a great job of that tonight.

Q.  LeBron, it's a different team for you going back into The Finals against the Spurs.  We talked a couple of days ago about what they were when you saw them the first time.  It's still those same big three.  How much better do you feel going back in armed with what you've got now?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† First of all, I think our team is more experienced, first of all.¬† My Cleveland team, we were very young, and we went up against a very experienced team, well‑coached team.¬† And they took advantage of everything that we did.
I think for this team, this is our third year advancing to The Finals.  So we're very experienced as well.  We're not young, we're not inexperienced.  We understand the opportunity that we have.
And I'm a much better player.  I'm 20, 40, 50 times better than I was in the '07 Finals, very young, and you know.  So, yeah, we're all better.

Q.  LeBron, Dwyane kind of unveiled the Euro step in the first quarter and shook Lance Stephenson.  He just kept on coming.  What did you see from him?  And the fact that you kind of took the burden with Paul George, how much do you think that meant to him?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Well, I mean, any little pressure I could take off D‑Wade I wanted to do that, especially in tonight's game.¬† I told him we kind of talked about it this morning, about the match‑ups coming out.¬† I told him I would take Paul George.¬† I want to allow him to focus on his offense, not have to worry about stopping Paul George every possession and allow him to get out in transition, allow him to get out in transition, allow him to make a couple of cuts and get to the line.
I think that was huge for him.

Q.¬† LeBron, a year ago when you beat the Celtics in the Conference Finals, you entered the Finals 0‑2, having lost two Finals.¬† Now you enter with a championship under your belt.¬† Does your frame of mind change compared to a year ago entering The Finals?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† No.¬† Ever since I lost The Finals to Dallas, my mind frame changed that off‑season.¬† I just wanted to get back to playing the game that I love and have fun and play it at a high level and just‑‑ I'll take this opportunity and this unbelievable game that we have for granted.
So my mindset has been the same since we lost to Dallas.  I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  LeBron, what's more relieving, defeating the Pacers, a very difficult Pacers team, or reaching The Finals?
LeBRON JAMES:  What's more relieving?

Q.  Yeah.  What's more a relief?  Getting past a very difficult Indiana team or achieving the goal of getting to The Finals again?
LeBRON JAMES:  I mean, I don't know.  As a team this is what we had as a goal, that's to get back to The Finals.  But we didn't cut any corners throughout the process, throughout the whole season.  This is an opportunity for us again to be able to win another championship.
So I don't have a relief at all of anything right now because I have a lot of work to still do.  But it's a great thing to be in this position.

Q.  LeBron, you had 15 free throws, and the Pacers had 14.  Was that just a product of being the veteran team in a Game 7 and wanting to establish that aggressiveness early?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† Yes, we were just aggressive.¬† We were very aggressive.¬† I was very aggressive.¬† That's how you control tempo.¬† You control tempo by getting to the free‑throw line.¬† One thing it allows us to do, it allows us to set our half‑court defense.¬† When we get to the free‑throw line, we shot 86% from the free‑throw line.¬† We got there 38 times.
We know that we're very good in the half court.¬† And the games that Indiana won, they put a lot of pressure on us in transition.¬† And tonight we only gave them five points in transition.¬† We only gave them 12 second‑chance points and only 28 points in the paint.¬† It was a by‑product of us getting to the free‑throw line and allowing us to get our defense set.

Q.  You talked about having a perspective where you remind yourself that basketball is just a game.  What helped you sort of get to that thinking or made you have to take that thinking?  And also how has that helped you as a leader on this team?
LeBRON JAMES:¬† I think the zone and the comfort level I'm in right now happened because Dallas beat us.¬† Dallas beat us in The Finals two years ago‑‑ or three years ago, whenever it was.¬† I just went back to the basics.¬† I went back home, I went back to Ohio.¬† I worked out with my high school coach.¬† I went back to my high school gym, and just put myself in the mindset of what made me fall in love with the game.¬† And it's because I had a lot of fun with it.
Every night I stepped on the basketball court, I wanted to have fun.  I wanted to represent myself and my family and friends at the highest level.
But at the end of the day, it is just a basketball game.¬† There are so many things in life that happens that you can just put the game‑‑ you can put life in perspective.¬† Like I said the other day with the little girl that passed away, "live like Bella," that we had on our shoes.¬† A little girl that passed away here in South Florida.¬† Once again that just put the game of basketball, it's just a game; it put life in perspective.
I'm happy I'm able to play this game at the highest level.  I love to compete.  I love to represent what basketball stands for.  But I don't put too much added pressure on myself, because I know it's just a game.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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