(Reuters) – The Cleveland Cavaliers were “lucky” to get the 100-97 win to level their NBA playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James said on Wednesday.
Having faced the prospect of two opening losses in the best-of-seven series at home, Cleveland limped across the line, with James scoring a game-high 46 points.
James was disappointed with his team’s defense in the waning moments, especially when Indiana guard Victor Oladipo got free for a golden three-point chance that would have tied the score with 27 seconds left.
“We got lucky,” four-times NBA Most Valuable Player James said in a courtside interview.
“We gave up a wide-open three to Oladipo and he missed it.
“I’d rather be on time and on target than lucky. We got to do a better job late in games and not give up a shot like that that’s something he can easily make.”
The result at least gives the Cavaliers hope as they head to Indianapolis for Game Three on Friday and Game Four on Sunday.
But they have a long road ahead as they attempt to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year, and perhaps another match-up against the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State won the championship in 2015 and 2017, with Cleveland taking out the 2016 title.
The Cavs have been far from invincible this season, posting a 50-32 regular-season record to earn the fourth seed for the postseason.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ian Ransom)