The scheduled head coaches involved in the NBA Finals, and most of the teams' star players, took their turns sitting on a stage at the Golden State Warriors' practice facility to accommodate the large crowds expected for them.
All but one.
The biggest star of them all, perhaps the best player between both teams, chose instead to park himself in front of a backdrop near the entrance of the facility. A throng of reporters, more than six deep, engulfed LeBron James as he tried to explain why Game 2 of the NBA Finals would be different from Game 1.
"I just think about the game plan; I think about the matchups and things that we can do better," James said. "So we have today, and we're going to prepare tomorrow as well. Get ready for the game. We'll be ready for the challenge."
After a two-day break the Warriors and the Cavaliers will continue their series Sunday at 5 p.m. PDT. The Warriors won the first game handily, leading the Cavaliers by as many as 24 points, with the help of 38 points from Kevin Durant, whom James often guarded. The Warriors ultimately won 113-91 and have won every game they've played in the playoffs.
While the Cavaliers' fate seems sealed, they've been in positions like this before. They've lost Game 1 of the Finals to the Warriors three times in a row. And James, who has played in seven Finals series, has a habit of winning on the road.
"It just speaks volumes to who he is as a player," said Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown, who coached James at the start of his career in Cleveland. "He's one of the greatest all time. When you have his ability, when you have his intelligence and feel and all that other stuff, you're able to lead your team in difficult situations and tough environments. And he's done that for many years. So you take your hat off to him."
Much remains uncertain about Game 2, starting with what Brown's role will be.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has been feeling better lately, but whose health has been tenuous for the past two years, attended practice Saturday. Brown has been filling in for him through most of the playoffs as he manages pain from complications due to back surgery.
"It's the same message," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said. "When he feels ready to go he'll coach, but right now he's not there."
What also remains uncertain is how the Cavaliers will fix the multitude of problems that ailed them in Game 1. James played well offensively, but struggled defensively, especially against Durant as did his team. The Cavaliers overcommitted to the Warriors' prolific shooters, often leaving Durant wide open.
Cleveland's offense was stymied by an active Warriors defense.
And they committed 20 turnovers compared with the Warriors' four.
"We know that's a great defensive team, but I thought some of [the turnovers] were unforced, and then a lot of them they did force," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "They did a good job of helping and then getting back out to shooters or stabbing at the ball and getting back out, playing cat and mouse. So when we make a move to the basket, we just have to be decisive."
In the two days between games, both teams mulled over the same idea — that they could have played better.
But the Cavaliers' belief in their ability to recover lies in something else. They believe, despite the final score, that they aren't that far off from being able to be the first team all playoffs to truly threaten the Warriors.
"They shot 42% from the field," Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson said. "We turned the ball over 20 times, and they had nine dunks and they shot 42% from the field, one of the best shooting teams in the history of the NBA. How far off are we? Not very far. But that also shows you that it only takes you to be a little off in order for teams to get very, very hungry."