LeBron James hailed his team-mate Anthony Davis as a “force in every facet of the game” after the pair combined for 59 points as the Lakers crushed the Heat 116-98 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Davis scored a game-high 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting and made a perfect 10-of-10 free throws. James stuffed the stat sheet with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. Miami, who lost starters Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo to injuries during the game, had no answer to the dominance of the Lakers’ superstar duo.
While Davis’ performance undoubtedly impressed many, 35-year-old James, who is gunning for his fourth NBA championship, said it is simply what he has come to expect from his team-mate.
“He has been preparing for this moment all season. I am happy to be on the same floor with him and in the same uniform,” said James. “He was, once again, a force in every facet of the game, offensively and defensively.”
All-Star forward Davis has waited his entire career to reach the NBA Finals and was asked about his feelings on reaching the game’s greatest stage for the first time.
“Obviously (I) want to come out and play well and you want to come out and win. I’ve always put pressure on myself,” Davis said. “Your adrenaline is going early because you are so excited just to be here. When the ball tips up, that goes away and it’s just basketball.
“I just wanted to come out with a lot of energy and be aggressive on the offensive glass. Not settling for too many jumpers, just being able to play in the paint and dominate that area. That was my mindset coming into the game.
“It was a great experience for me but the job is not done. We’ve got three more (wins to get).”
James echoed the sentiments of his team-mate and admitted the Lakers’ performance was far from flawless, pointing to their sluggish start to the game.
“We pay attention to detail,” he said. “I don’t think in the beginning we were physical enough. You have to get a feel for how hard Miami play. They smacked us in the mouth and we got a sense of that. We knew how hard we had to play if we wanted to make it a game.
“From that moment (in the first quarter) when it was 23-10 (to Miami), we started to play to our capabilities. We started flying around, we started getting some defensive stops, we started sharing the ball a lot better offensively and got into a really good rhythm.
“We have got so much more work to do. The job is not done and we are not satisfied from winning one game. It’s that simple.
“You can learn so much more from a win than you can from a loss. I can’t wait for us to get together tomorrow to watch the film and see ways we can be better.
“See some of the break downs we had, especially in that fourth quarter and in the first six minutes of the first quarter. We can be so much better defensively and offensively.”
Game 2 takes place in the early hours of Saturday morning (1:45am), live on Sky Sports Arena. A full replay of Game 2 will follow on the same channel on Saturday at 1pm