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LeBron James says playoffs make it easier for him to ‘lock in’

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With Game 1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first round series against the Boston Celtics looming on Sunday, LeBron James took a moment to explain how it’s much easier for him as a player to better focus in the postseason as opposed to doing so during the grind of an 82-game NBA regular season.

“It’s a totally different mindset,” James said, via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. “There’s so many games in the regular season, you can’t give all your time to just one opponent because you can have four in five nights. … But in the postseason, you have at least four times that you’re going to see that opponent. At this point, there’s not many different sets that you’re going to see. You’re going to see the same personnel. So I’m able to lock in.”

The kind of stats James puts up in the postseason, particularly in the first round, confirm the superstar’s insistence that when the playoffs arrive, his ability to “lock in” helps him become an even more productive player. And in 43 first round games, Windhorst notes (via ESPN Stats & Information), James has averaged 29.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 6.8 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field. These numbers are fairly consistent with his regular season averages in those statistical categories (27.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists), although there’s a noticeable increase in points scored.

Overall, James postseason per-game averages in 158 games are 28.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists, numbers that indicate just how remarkably consistent he is on the court in any situation.

Perhaps the most telling statistic, though — and a foreboding one for the Celtics — is that James’ Cavaliers and Heat teams over the past six seasons have a 24-3 record in the first round.

While a player with the championship pedigree of James isn’t going to rest on the laurels of his first round dominance, it’s evident that the NBA’s best current player, like the ones who came before him, shine the brightest when the pressure is cranked up.

James indicated that the team has its sights set on much more than advancing out of the first round.

“We have our own expectations,” James said. “We don’t worry what everyone else thinks of what we should do. It’s about what we expect out of ourselves.

“We had a pretty, pretty good regular season. I wouldn’t say great. I’m not satisfied. I’m never satisfied.”