LeBron in­spired, War­riors wary of over­con­fi­dence fol­low­ing Kyrie Irv­ing surgery

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JIM SLATER

LeBron James t akes i nspi­ra­tion f rom those dis­miss­ing the Cleve­land Cava­liers’ cham­pi­onship hopes af­ter los­ing Kyrie Irv­ing, while the Golden State War­riors are wary of over- con­fi­dence in the NBA Fi­nals.

All-Star guard Irv­ing un­der­went surgery Satur­day to re­pair the left kneecap he frac­tured in a 108-100 loss to Golden State in Thurs­day’s opener of the best-of-seven se­ries.

“With Kyrie out, peo­ple are writ­ing us off. That’s fine,” James said as he looked ahead to game two on Sun­day. “I’m mo­ti­vated to get our guys ready to go to­mor­row and we will be ready.”

James scored 44 points in the opener with Irv­ing adding 23. Only one other player scored af­ter half­time for the Cava­liers.

“Tough pill to swallow,” James said. “It sucks for him per­son­ally. It’s a huge blow for our team. Guys have to pick it up in his ab­sence.”

James left Miami last July to re­turn to his home­town club, which now has the chance to be­come the first Cleve­land sports team in 51 years to win a ti­tle.

“I said it was go­ing to be one of the most chal­leng­ing sea­sons of my ca­reer and this adds to it,” he said. “We’re un­der­manned right now. But we’ve got guys in the locker room that are ready for the chal­lenge.”

War­riors coach Steve Kerr, mean­while, has a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge — keep­ing his play­ers from buy­ing into the no­tion that they can waltz to a cham­pi­onship.

“If we have a let­down in the fi­nals, there is some­thing fun­da­men­tally flawed with us each indi- vid­u­ally and as a team,” Kerr said. “There is no way that can pos­si­bly hap­pen.”

Kerr noted how a last-sec­ond reg­u­la­tion shot by Cleve­land’s Iman Shumpert nearly cost them the opener and that Cleve­land swept East top seed At­lanta with Irv­ing ab­sent for two games.

“The chal­lenge is still enor­mous. There’s still so much for us to cover and deal with,” Kerr said. “It’s not just what hap­pens on the floor. It’s how does the psy­che change?”

Cava­liers coach Dave Blatt noted that his team swept Eastern Con­fer­ence top seeds At­lanta de­spite miss­ing Irv­ing for two games, and with big man Kevin Love side­lined.

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