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  • September 4, 2018 2:56 AM EDT
    LeBron James laughed as he came around the backstage partition after arriving fashionably late for his crowded Tashaun Gipson Jersey , post-practice news conference.

    As he stepped onto the podium, back among friendly faces and in the building where he has done some of his finest work, James seemed at ease, almost content. No signs of stress anywhere.

    Moments later, his demeanor shifted.

    A few reminders about his team’s urgent predicament against Golden State, questions about President Donald Trump and another review of Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss in Oakland swung his emotions.

    ”I know it feels like we’re down 2-0, and I don’t like the way I feel,” James said. ”I don’t like the mood that I’m in right now. There’s no, like, `OK, you’re down 2-0 and you feel better than when you’re down 2-0 before.’ When you’re down like this, in a deficit like this – versus a team like this – there’s no good feeling. So I don’t feel good about it.”

    The Cavaliers may be in a dark place.

    For the third time in the past four Finals, James and his teammates enter Game 3 against the Warriors in a win-or-make-summer-vacation-plans situation. After they wasted a 51-point effort by James – with a reversed official’s call, missed free throw by George Hill and bone-headed move from J.R. Smith – and let Game 1 slip away in overtime , and following Stephen Curry’s 3-point barrage in Game 2 , the Cavs are faced with the reality that their season, strange as it has been to this point, is in serious jeopardy.

    However Andy Dalton Jersey , coach Tyronn Lue, who plans to give disappointing forward Rodney Hood playing time on Wednesday night, feels his team can change the complexion of this series.

    ”We’re very confident we can do that,” Lue said. ”The guys are engaged and locked in. Winning tomorrow is a step forward, but then going out with Game 4 also. We’re locked into doing that, and we know we can.

    ”We believe.”

    It’s easy to understand Lue’s confidence. After what the Cavaliers have experienced this season, a 2-0 deficit in the Finals against a star-studded Warriors squad on the cusp of being stamped as a modern-day dynasty seems manageable.

    Cleveland has endured injuries, trades, tragedy and drama for months. The Cavs, who climbed from a 2-0 hole to beat Boston in the conference finals, have major roster holes and unfixable flaws. There’s no denying their toughness.

    ”We’ve been very persistent and very resilient throughout this whole season, no matter what has been going on,” James said. ”We have an opportunity to come home and protect home, as Golden State has done. It’s a very tall task. A very tough challenge going against these guys, going against this team.”

    Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead are 29-4 in the Finals, but the Warriors know better than to be overconfident. They’ve learned the hard way.

    Golden State held a 3-1 lead in the 2016 Finals before the Cavs rallied to win three straight and dethrone the Dubs. And last year, the Warriors trailed by six with 3:09 left before storming back to win 118-113 in Game 3.

    Cleveland has won eight straight playoff games at Quicken Loans Arena, which may be louder than ever with hometown fans still frothing from some calls that went against the Cavaliers in the Bay Area last week.

    Just the sight of Warriors forward Draymond Green should be enough to push the decibel readings inside the building to unsafe levels.

    ”I don’t really think about being up 2-0 because the series could turn so fast Ethan Westbrooks Jersey ,” Warriors star Kevin Durant said. ”It’s a great position to be in. I don’t want to take that for granted; don’t get me wrong. But the job is not done, and you can’t relax or be comfortable when you’re still trying to win this thing. We know coming on the road is going to be tougher.”

    The Warriors may have Andre Iguodala back for the first time in the series.

    One of the team’s best defenders, Iguodala has missed six straight games with a left knee injury suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Coach Steve Kerr said the 34-year-old has improved.

    ”He’s getting closer, and I’m hopeful that he can play,” Kerr said. ”If not tomorrow, then in Game 4.”

    While Kerr looked forward, James was forced to take another glance back at Game 1.

    On Sunday, uncut TV footage showed James uncomfortably sitting on Cleveland’s bench next to Smith, who inexplicably dribbled out the final seconds of regulation. James was shown asking Lue if the team had any timeouts and then reacting as if he had been punched in the stomach when he learned the Cavs could have stopped the clock.

    ”Damn cameras,” James joked when asked about the video. ”I finally got Game 1 out of my head. You’re taking me back, huh?”

    James, who is averaging 40 points, 10.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds in two games, abstains from social media during the postseason. He was unaware the video went viral or that he’s being criticized for not inspiring his teammates.

    ”Me being criticized? I don’t believe that,” he said sarcastically. ”I don’t care at all. I mean, we’re in the NBA Finals. How much more picking up of teammates do you want me to do?”

    This story has been corrected to show that the Cavaliers won three, not four, straight games to win the NBA Finals in 2016.

    Standing in foul territory Vontaze Burfict Jersey , Steven Matz stared at the ball he had just mishandled and started to give it an angry kick, then changed his mind and instead just picked it up.

    Matz and the New York Mets keep their cool Sunday, barely, overcoming three errors and escaping the NL East cellar after a one-day stay by beating the Miami Marlins 5-2.

    The Mets, who endured their worst June ever, won for only the second time in the past 12 games to reach the season’s halfway point at 33-48.

    ”We’re all disappointed with where we’re at,” Matz said. ”We had higher expectations. We’re just going to keep pushing.”

    Matz (4-5) did that in the series finale, when he pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed only an unearned run. It scored on his error, and he worked around misplays by two teammates – an encouraging sign from a pitcher still learning not to let setbacks snowball.

    ”You still see him get a little flustered out there,” manager Mickey Callaway said. ”But he regroups and makes the next pitch. Today he won the game for us because he did that, because they easily could have tacked on some runs there early. He held them right where he needed to hold them.”

    New York’s bullpen leads the majors in losses but limited Miami to one hit in the final 3 2/3 innings. Jeurys Familia completed the four-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 15th save.

    Asdrubal Cabrera hit his 14th homer off Dan Straily (3-4). Todd Frazier had two hits and scored three times, and Kevin Plawecki doubled home New York’s first run.

    Straily allowed three runs in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the year. Cameron Maybin hit his first homer for the Marlins, but they slipped back into last place in the division.

    ”We just didn’t do a whole lot with Matz,” manager Don Mattingly said. ”That’s probably the best I’ve seen him.”

    Matz loaded the bases with two out in the second by walking Straily, an .056 career hitter, but then struck out Starlin Castro to escape.

    Matz also reached behind his legs to snare Lewis Brinson’s grounder and retire him in the fourth. But the left-hander failed to come up with Straily’s safety squeeze bunt with two out in the inning, allowing Miguel Rojas to score from third.

    ”If I had taken my time I would have had him Charles Leno Jersey , but I rushed it,” Matz said.

    MISCUES

    Callaway talked before the game about how the Mets needed to play better defense, but they didn’t. Second baseman Cabrera and third baseman Frazier misplayed grounders for errors.

    Miami misplays in the eighth led to the Mets’ final two runs. Center fielder Brinson failed to catch Frazier’s drive after a long sprint, and the play was ruled an RBI double.

    ”He probably should have caught that,” Mattingly said. ”I know they gave him a hit there, but if you ask him he gets to that ball and catches that pretty much all the time.”

    Frazier then came home on a wild pickoff throw by catcher J.T. Realmuto.

    UNEXPECTED CONTRIBUTION

    Matz was 2 for 26 this year before he hit a two-out single in the fourth for his first RBI of the season.

    ”I was in a slump,” he said, ”but I’m out of it now.”

    NIMMO SLUMP

    The Mets’ Brandon Nimmo, hit by a pitch on his right hand a week ago, went 0 for 5 and is in a 1-for-19 slump.

    ”I’m super late. My bat speed is not there,” he said. ”But my hand feels fine.”

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Mets: INF Dominic Smith, who had a cortisone shot for his sore right wrist, pinch-hit in the eighth and flied out. … OF Jay Bruce (hip) is expected to begin taking batting practice in the next few days.

    UP NEXT

    Mets: After an off day, RHP Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.47) is scheduled to start Tuesday at Toronto.

    Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 6.14) is scheduled to start Monday against Tampa Bay to begin a three-game series.

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