It's the first time the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar has suffered defeat in a postseason opener, and also marks his first Round 1 loss in six years, ending his streak at 21 straight wins and bumping his overall record to 48-8. He's not worried, though, since he's faced far greater challenges and beaten far longer odds.
"I've always stayed even-keeled with the postseason," the four-time MVP told reporters postgame. "I'm down 0-1 in the first round. I was down 3-1 in the Finals. I'm the last guy to ask about how you're gonna feel the next couple of days."
James and Co. were down 3-1 against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. At that point, no team in Finals history had overcome a 3-1 deficit in 32 tries. Cleveland became the first that year, defying all odds and defeating the Warriors in seven games to win the franchise's first championship.
This time around, the Cavaliers face a tougher road to the Finals. They finished as the No. 4 seed following a tumultuous regular-season campaign, meaning there's a good chance they won't have homecourt advantage in the ensuing rounds ... if they even advance.
James registered his 20th career playoff triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes, which he admitted was more than he expected to play. The three-time champion, who passed Michael Jordan for second-most made field goals in NBA playoff history, said he plans to capitalize on multiple days off before hosting Game 2 on Wednesday.