OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James and the Cavaliers know what's being whispered — and sometimes shouted — at the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers play in the Eastern Conference, they say. They haven't been tested, they say. What happens when the adversity finally hits?
It came in Game 1, with the Warriors not even needing their two biggest stars while flattening Cleveland in the din of Oracle Arena. Now observers want to know how the Cavaliers will respond after showing no indication that a fully health team was any more capable of defeating Golden State than the depleted unit James dragged along with him for six games last year.
The Cavs cruised through the inferior Eastern Conference all season, the narrative goes, and now their reckoning is upon them. Game 2 is tonight in Oakland, and the Splash Brothers will be frothing at the mouth after a tepid Game 1. It's up to the Cavaliers to show they belong on the same court.
"We're not a team that loses our composure over anything," James said.
In reality, the Cavaliers have been tested like few others.
"It was funny because people were talking about not having been through adversity, and, I mean, we've been through adversity all season," coach Tyronn Lue said.
No adversity? How about firing a coach who led them to the NBA Finals a year ago then got them off to a 30-11 start?
How about James raising eyebrows with his cryptic tweets, public challenging of teammates and midseason refreshes in South Beach?
How about Kevin Love trying to find his way in an offense dominated by James and Kyrie Irving?
These Cavaliers have lived in a pressure cooker ever since James returned two summers ago. They know that the city's tortured fan base pins its hopes on them to end a 52-year championship drought.
"There's good things that can come from it and feeling like your back is up against the wall," Love said. "Then you have to push back and fight. I think we've been a team that has kind of thrived in, I don't know if chaos is the right word, but thrived in adversity and been able to bounce back. We're going to look to (tonight) as definitely a bounceback game and try to go 1-1 back to Cleveland."