CLEVELAND — LeBron James is focused on trying to extend the NBA Finals, but he may have given a hint about his future with the Cavaliers.
James admitted that the Warriors, who lead the series 3-0, are more talented than the Cavaliers. No one would argue that. The Warriors steamrolled the Cavaliers in last year’s Finals in five games and can sweep Cleveland in Game 4 Friday.
But James’ admission came just after he acknowledged he left Cleveland in 2010 and went to Miami because he knew he didn’t have enough to win a championship.
James, who can be a free agent in July, stopped just short of saying the Cavaliers don’t have enough to beat these Warriors. (Spoiler alert: They don’t).
“I’m living in the moment now,” James said after practice Thursday. “We’ve had an opportunity to win two of these games in this three-game series so far, and we haven’t come up with it.
“Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth.”
James then went on to list what makes the Warriors great.
Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are former MVPs. Klay Thompson is good enough to be the main guy on a team and Draymond Green is an elite defender and considered one of the smartest players. The Warriors also have above-average role players in 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.
James said the challenge for all executives and some “players” is to build a team with the talent and smarts to compete with the Warriors.
“Now everyone is trying to figure that out,” James said. “How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship?
“That’s what GMs and presidents and certain players — it’s not every player. Every player does not want to — sad to say — but every player doesn’t want to compete for a championship and be in a position where every possession is pressure.”
James, who has been linked to the Lakers, Sixers and Rockets if he opts for free agency, said he knew that with him, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami they were good basketball minds.
He said he tried to “fast track” Kryie Irving’s mind when James returned to Cleveland four years ago. They won a title together over the Warriors in 2016, but that was before Golden State landed Durant.
By the way, this series shows how much the Cavaliers miss Irving, who forced a trade to Boston last summer, and Wade, who was traded back to Miami in Cleveland. If not for some mental lapses in the first three games, the Cavaliers may have had a better shot. In Game 1, George Hill missed a free throw with the score tied and J.R. Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and dribbled out the clock in regulation.
The Cavaliers led Game 3 Wednesday by 13 in the second quarter. They had numerous defensive breakdowns in the third quarter and ended up losing by eight on a night Curry shot 3-for-16, including 1-for-10 on threes, and scored just 11 points. Durant carried them, though, finishing with a playoff career-high 43 points.
James essentially said you have to play the perfect game to beat the Warriors because they don’t beat themselves.
“We have a lot of talent,” James said. “We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games. The room for error versus a team like this is slim to none. It’s like playing the Patriots. It’s like playing San Antonio.
“When you make mistakes they make you pay, because they’re already more talented than you are but they also have the minds behind it, too, and they also have the championship DNA.”
Since the Cavaliers haven’t been able to play the perfect game against Golden State, this summer James could try to find and help assemble the perfect team.