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Lakers’ LeBron James: Experience Has Taught Me to Stay ‘Locked In’ After Game 3

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Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) passes the ball against Miami Heat during the first half in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James isn’t dwelling on the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Game 3 loss to the Miami Heat. Instead, he’s focusing on his experience from appearances in 10 NBA Finals to handle his expectations for his team through the rest of the series.

On Monday, the King shared his mindset heading into Game 4, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“Until the series is completed, I kind of stay on edge, stay locked in on the job at hand. Obviously, no one wants to ever lose. You hate that feeling, especially when you know you didn’t play your best, and I definitely wasn’t at my best (Sunday) night from an individual standpoint. So I take that responsibility and I take that with a lot of passion and understanding of how I can be much better in the following game.”

James has such an extensive Finals resume that it isn’t difficult for him to find a memory to reflect on, whatever the situation he’s facing. He has been swept in the series twice—by the Golden State Warriors in 2018 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2007—and he has rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to take the title (2016).

But even when he uses his experience to guide him, James said he never enters a game with goals or a strategy in mind:

“I’ve never predetermined my game plan throughout my whole career. I’ve never gone into a game saying, ‘OK, I need to score 40 tonight, I need to dominate in the scoring facet … I need to make big shots.’ I’ve never predetermined my game. Throughout my whole life, I’ve never done that. … I think anytime I’ve ever thought about, ‘OK, I’m going to try to go out and do this,’ it doesn’t happen that way.”

James walked off the court 10 seconds before the final buzzer in Sunday’s loss after committing eight turnovers while leading the Lakers with 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. But when Game 4 tips off Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, he will be relying on his past experiences to guide him, rather than staying fixated on what went wrong, both Sunday and in years past.

“Throughout the postseason, I stay even keel,” James said. “As I’ve grown in this game and I’ve grown over the years, I kind of stay even keel, understanding that there’s always another opportunity to get better.”

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