Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James refused to get carried away with his team's blow-out win over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, insisting there is much more work to do.

The Lakers humbled the Heat 116-98 in the opening game of the showpiece showdown at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

James' Lakers led by as much as 32 points after trailing by 13 early in Orlando, Florida, where the Heat were no match for the Western Conference top seeds midweek.

Anthony Davis posted a game-high 34 points, while James – making his 10th Finals appearance – had 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

Despite outclassing the Heat as the Lakers eye their first championship since 2010, James told reporters: "We have so much more work to do.

"The job is not done. We are not satisfied with winning one game. It's that simple."

"I don't think at the beginning we were physical enough," said three-time NBA champion James, who recorded his 31st career double-double in the Finals to move outright fourth in league history, after the Lakers went on a 75-30 run.

"You have to get a feel for how hard Miami play and I think they smacked us in the mouth. We had a sense of that, so we knew how hard we had to play to make it a game.

"From that moment when it was 23-10, we started to play to our capabilities. We started flying around, getting defensive stops, sharing the ball a lot better offensively and got into a really good groove."

Davis produced a huge performance in his first Finals appearance following a blockbuster trade from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of the season.

He became the first Lakers player to post 30-plus points in the Finals since Kobe Bryant's 38 in Game 5 of the 2010 Finals.

Davis and James also became the first Lakers duo to each record 25-plus points in the same Finals game since Bryant (33) and Shaquille O'Neal (29) in Game 2 of the 2004 Finals.

"I expect it out of him. I didn't give him any advice. We have been preparing for this moment all season, he has been preparing all season," James said.

"I'm happy to be on the same floor and same uniform as him. Once again, he was a force in every facet of the game, both offensively and defensively."

The NBA Finals are taking place behind closed doors without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic, but James said: "It felt great, I've been preparing for this moment for quite a while.

"Fans or no fans, the inner challenge for myself and the way I prepare myself, it felt amazing to be playing the Finals once again."

The Miami Heat were up 22-6 in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals, with one of the greatest teams ever assembled looking primed to cut their series deficit to 3-2 against the San Antonio Spurs.

But any hope of a miraculous turnaround from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was snatched away as Gregg Popovich's Spurs went on a 39-15 run that turned the tide.

Manu Ginobili's step-back three capped that 24-point turnaround, delighting a raucous AT&T Center crowd that revelled in the Spurs taking an eight-point lead into half-time.

The star-studded Heat wilted thereafter and San Antonio's advantage ballooned to 22 points, the Spurs going on to claim a 104-87 victory that secured Tim Duncan's fifth NBA title in what proved to be LeBron's last game with the Heat.

It was a triumph of depth over star power. That is not to say the Spurs did not have stars, as Duncan, Ginobli and Tony Parker were already established as legends in San Antonio and Kawhi Leonard would join them with his performance in the Finals.

However, the Heat were favourites for a reason. Between four-time MVP James, a former scoring champion in Wade and a versatile jump-shooting center in Bosh, the Heat should have had enough to complete the three-peat.

Yet the top-heavy nature of their roster proved the undoing of Miami, with Popovich getting a greater level of contributions from a deeper group of players and Leonard producing an outstanding individual performance to earn Finals MVP.

Fast forward to 2020 and LeBron is in his 10th Finals. The Heat are now the opponents for LeBron's Los Angeles Lakers, with the series starting on Wednesday, but the situation - save for the lack of fans - is markedly similar.

In James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have two players who were in the running for the MVP award won by Giannis Antetokounmpo but they are going up against a Heat side whose remarkable depth has seen off the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics for the loss of just three games.

Jimmy Butler has been the star of the show for the Heat in the postseason and, while the expectation is that the Lakers will emerge with a 17th NBA title, Butler and the Heat look to have personnel to replicate the feats of Leonard and the Spurs six years ago.

SPURS THWART BIG THREE

James was at his brilliant best in 2014, as he led the Heat with 28.2 points per game, shooting 51.9 per cent from three-point range and 57.1 per cent from the field in the Finals.

However, only two other players in Wade (15.2) and Bosh (14) averaged double-digit points. Ray Allen (9.8) and Michael Beasley (9) were closest to joining the Big Three in that group.

That is not surprising, but there is clear disparity when you compare those numbers to what the Spurs put up across the five games.

Parker's points-per-game average of 18 was well shy of that of LeBron. However, Leonard (17.8), Duncan (15.4), Ginobili (14.4) and Patty Mills (10.2) all joined him in double figures.

In other words, the Heat had the most dominant player, but the Spurs had more productive options to turn to, and that could again be the case when LeBron faces his former team in Orlando.

HEAT EVEN STRONGER THAN SAN ANTONIO?

The 2019-20 Heat are the antithesis of the 2013-14 vintage, with their strength in depth critical to Miami seeing off the Antetokounmpo-led Bucks in five games and then defeating the Celtics in six.

Indeed, the case can be made that they are even deeper than the Spurs of six years ago. Goran Dragic (20.9) and Butler (20.7) are each averaging 20 points per game in the postseason, with Bam Adebayo (18.5), Tyler Herro (16.5), Jae Crowder (12.3) and Duncan Robinson (11.3) all in double figures.

Back in 2014, Parker was the Spurs' top scorer in the postseason with 17.4, Duncan had 16.3 with Ginobili and Leonard each on 14.3.

In terms of pure scoring, the Heat are better equipped to deal with the challenge posed by LeBron than the Spurs were in 2014.

However, the Lakers have the advantage of Davis playing on the same level as James. Davis (28.8 points per game) is the Lakers' leading scorer in the postseason, with James averaging 26.7.

The presence of two MVP-calibre players performing to that standard heightens the need for a Leonard-esque performance from a member of the Heat.

WHO WILL PLAY THE KAWHI ROLE?

Leonard was majestic in the 2014 Finals. In addition to leading San Antonio in points per game, he averaged 1.2 blocks per game and shot 57.9 per cent from beyond the arc.

The MVP came more for his defense on LeBron than for his outstanding shooting and, while Butler has led the way in terms of average points, the Heat may need to look elsewhere for a player who can replicate Leonard's impact on both ends of the floor.

Andre Iguodala earned the Finals MVP in 2015 with the Golden State Warriors for his efforts in stopping LeBron and hit all four of his three-point attempts in the Game 6 win over the Celtics.

Miami will need to throw multiple players at James and Davis to have a hope of slowing them down, yet the numbers leave little doubt as to who is the leading candidate to have a Finals performance akin to that of Leonard.

Adebayo is shooting 57.1 per cent from the field, though that has all come from inside the arc, and has been dominant on the boards.

His average of 11.4 rebounds is the fourth-most in the postseason and, while others will need to carry the load in terms of deep shooting, it is he who has the best hopes of excelling at both ends.

The odds are stacked against Miami but, in a unique NBA season, it would be foolish to count them out. Six years on from their last Finals appearance, the Heat have the roster to pull off the upset and make sure that this time they are the ones celebrating a victory for strength in numbers.

A unique NBA postseason has thrown up an intriguing Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat.

With the coronavirus pandemic confining the league to a bubble in Orlando, Florida, there has been no home advantage and no shortage of shocks since the playoffs began last month.

The Lakers - the top seed in the West - have managed to survive with their star power as Anthony Davis helped LeBron James to reach the Finals for a 10th time.

In the East, meanwhile, the fifth-seeded Heat have also gone all the way, dumping out the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks and MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second round.

LA and Miami each dropped just three games en route to this series, which starts with Game 1 on Wednesday, but they have taken contrasting approaches to get here.

Using Stats Perform Data, we take a look.
 

Superstar Lakers

The Lakers were not alone in headlining their roster with two massive names at the start of the season.

As they traded for Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, rivals the Los Angeles Clippers put together a mammoth deal to pair Kawhi Leonard with Paul George. Russell Westbrook joined James Harden at the Houston Rockets.

It would appear clear now the Lakers did the best business as they prepare for the Finals, having eliminated the Rockets in the conference semi-finals.

Almost everything they have done has gone through James or Davis. Four-time MVP James has a 31.5 per cent usage rate in 35 minutes on the floor in this year's playoffs and is averaging almost a triple-double (26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists), while his team-mate has a 29.4 per cent usage rate in 35.9 minutes and 28.8 points per game.

The Rockets rely even more heavily on their stars - Harden has 32.5 per cent of the ball in 37 minutes and Westbrook 31.3 per cent in 33 - but they do not have the same consistency. Against the Lakers, Westbrook shot four-of-15 from the field in Game 2 and four-of-13 in the decisive Game 5.

The Clippers did not even advance to a highly anticipated meeting with the Lakers as George similarly struggled to set the standard, averaging 20.2 points.

George's 10 points contributed to a Game 7 defeat to the Denver Nuggets, yet even their in-form pairing of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray could not match James and Davis, the league's outstanding duo.
 

Deep Heat

Miami will not look to put their own top performers up against James and Davis in the same way. It is the depth of this Heat team that saw them through the East.

They remarkably have six regulars - Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder and Duncan Robinson - averaging 11.0 points or more. Miami are the only team to reach the Finals with such a wealth of scoring options in the past 25 years.

It should come as little surprise to see this production, though, as the Heat - in direct contrast to the Lakers - share the ball around. Of their nine players to make 10 or more playoff appearances this year, seven have a usage rate above 16 per cent. Six have played 27 minutes per game or more.

That provides plenty of opportunity for the fourth or fifth man to steal the show, with Robinson top-scoring in a win against the Indiana Pacers while Herro poured in 37 points in a victory over the Boston Celtics.

Herro's efforts saw him break Dwyane Wade's rookie franchise playoff record - set in a first-round 2004 game - by a whole 10 points. Wade was the team's leading scorer in that postseason; Herro is merely fourth this time.
 

How they match up

So, which approach will come out on top? Well, there are also drawbacks on both sides.

Having bet the house on James and Davis - comfortably their top two earners - the Lakers lack an obvious third option to throw at Miami.

Only Kyle Kuzma (10.5) is averaging more than 10.0 points in the playoffs elsewhere on the roster, while each of the eight players besides James and Davis to play at least 10 games this postseason have a usage rate between 12 and 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Heat have the third largest total salary in the league this season, operating above the luxury tax level, but do not possess a superstar comparable to LA's pair to take the entire series by the scruff of the neck.

Even Butler has a marginally lower points per game (20.9 to 20.7) and usage rate (27.3 per cent to 24.7) than team-mate Dragic. Neither man might at this stage be ranked alongside those big names in the West.

They will need help from Adebayo, Herro and the rest, while Frank Vogel has to hope James and Davis alone have enough to secure silverware.

Regardless of their flaws, the outcome of this matchup will validate more than a year's worth of work for one of these teams.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has confirmed Sergino Dest is having a medical with the club ahead of a potential move from Ajax.

The 19-year-old United States international has been strongly linked with a €25million move to either Barca or Bayern Munich, but it appears the Catalan club have won the race.

Dest, an attack-minded right-back, was spotted arriving in Barcelona on Tuesday, giving rise to increased speculation that the deal was practically closed.

And Koeman, who tried to persuade Dest to represent the Netherlands when he coached the Oranje, confirmed the teenager is having a medical as he plans to take the well-trodden path from Ajax to Camp Nou.

"Dest is doing his medical, we still have to sign [the contracts]," Koeman told reporters in his news conference on Wednesday. "Until he signs I will not comment

"We are going to have a young full-back – it is a matter of changing things and having young players for the future of the club is important.

"It is good because he has played in the Champions League and I am sure that, when all the contracts are signed, he will be very useful for Barca."

One player strongly linked with leaving Barca is Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly being lined up by Manchester United as an alternative to Jadon Sancho.

The French winger has only been able to show glimpses of his ability since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 due to injuries – in 2019-20 he featured just five times in LaLiga.

While Koeman claimed no knowledge of any potential transfer for Dembele, he insisted that he sees a future for him at Barca.

"Those decisions are made by the club and the player. As we have seen, I am going to count on him," Koeman added.

"He did not play from the start [against Villarreal] because there are more players and Ansu [Fati] has proven to be very good for this team.

"He was better physically the first few weeks, but today he trained well and I'm going to count on him."

Dembele's future could be tied to that of Memphis Depay, who is said to be Barca's primary target in attack, and while Koeman would not specifically name his compatriot when asked about signings, he made no secret of his desire to add options in that department.

"We have to analyse the squad, analyse what we lack," he continued. "We know that financially the club has its problems, like everyone else.

"There are one or two positions where we need to improve, and I'm not going to lie to you, we are working.

"There are options but it is very unsafe. The club is going to work hard. If not, we will use our players because I have no complaints with the ones we have.

"We want to have two or three players per position. We have put Leo [Lionel Messi] as a nine, [Antoine] Griezmann can play there, but they are different players. Martin [Braithwaite] is more than a nine and will have his chances but we want one more."

LeBron James insisted there would be no extra meaning should he win an NBA championship at the expense of former team the Miami Heat, while the Los Angeles Lakers superstar described reaching the Finals in the Orlando bubble as the "most challenging thing I've ever done".

James will make his 10th Finals appearance searching for his fourth title when the top-seeded Lakers and Heat meet in Game 1 at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday.

The four-time MVP's first two championships came during his time in Miami, where he reigned supreme with the Heat alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2012 and 2013, while he added another title via the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

"Absolutely not," James – preparing for his first Finals since joining the Lakers in 2018-19 – said when asked if winning the championship against Miami would carry any extra significance.

"It's no extra meaning to winning a championship, no matter who you're playing against. It's already hard enough to even reach the Finals, to be in this position. If you're able to become victorious out of the Finals, it doesn't matter who it's against.

"I'm just happy that I'm here with the opportunity to represent not only myself but represent our fans, our fan base, our organisation, my team-mates, our coaching staff, our training staff and so many others that represent this organisation to the utmost respect."

The Lakers, who returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, overcame the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets en route to the Finals in Orlando, Florida.

It has been a difficult situation behind closed doors inside the Orlando bubble due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2019-20 season was suspended in March before resuming in July without fans and with teams based at Walt Disney World Resort.

"It's probably been the most challenging thing I've ever done as far as a professional, as far as committing to something and actually making it through," said James, as the Lakers eye their first title since 2010. "But I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for.

"I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it's been extremely tough.

"But I'm here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to compete for a championship. That was my mindset once I entered the bubble, once I entered the quarantine process the first two days. Then right from my first practice, my mindset was - if I'm going to be here, make the most of it and see what you can do and lock in on what the main thing is. The main thing was for us to finish the season and compete for a championship.

"So that's just been my mindset throughout these -- I don't even know how many days it is. However many days it is, it feels like five years. So it really doesn't matter. I've been as locked in as I've ever been in my career."

The Miami Heat's fairytale season continues after setting up an NBA Finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers at the expense of the Boston Celtics.

Bam Adebayo led the way as the Heat topped the Celtics 125-113 to seal a 4-2 series victory in the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

The Heat had not reached the Finals since losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 showpiece, while LeBron James was still in Miami.

Miami were not expected to challenge for the championship after missing the playoffs last season, having finished 10th in the Eastern Conference, but Jimmy Butler's arrival has helped transform the Heat.

Butler put up 22 points, but it was Adebayo who ignited the Heat with a season-high 32 points and 14 rebounds in Game 6 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Tyler Herro added 19 points off the bench, while veteran Andre Iguodala dazzled – going five for five from the field and four for four from three-point range for 15 points as the Heat advanced to the Finals for the sixth time.

The Celtics bowed out, despite Jaylen Brown's 26 points and Jayson Tatum's double-double of 24 points and career-high 11 assists.

Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart also had 20 points apiece for Boston.

 

Heat face Lakers

The NBA Finals will get underway on Wednesday. The top-seeded Lakers will be looking to claim their first championship since 2010.

Jamie Vardy was the scourge of Manchester City again as his hat-trick secured a sensational 5-2 win for Leicester City and raised fresh questions about Pep Guardiola's defence.

The striker won two penalties and converted both, either side of a terrific backheeled finish for his second goal, to net his second hat-trick against City – almost four years after his treble in a 4-2 victory over the same opponents.

His former Leicester team-mate Riyad Mahrez gave the hosts the lead at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but Vardy then took centre stage, with James Maddison adding a brilliant fourth goal late on.

Nathan Ake headed a City consolation, but Leicester then scored a fifth in a dramatic Premier League clash, with Maddison fouled and Youri Tielemans slotting in another penalty.

It meant Guardiola, in his 686th game as a manager, suffered the indignity of seeing one of his team’s conceding five goals for the first time.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accused football authorities of failing in their duty of care amid a hectic fixture schedule, insisting players are "not machines".

Matches are coming thick and fast following a shortened off-season after the coronavirus-hit 2019-20 campaign, with City due to host Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday on the back of Thursday's EFL Cup victory.

City will be without Gabriel Jesus as their injury list grows – Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko are all recovering from fitness issues.

Guardiola – whose City were afforded an extra week of recovery before opening their season with victory at Wolves following a run to the Champions League quarter-finals – hit out at the football calendar, telling reporters: "Nobody cares about the players. It is about the business. The reality is what it is.

"It is not just Man City, it is all the clubs and countries. Nobody cares about the players.

"Everyone - the Premier League, UEFA, EFL - has defended their own business and position.

"The players had a two-week pre-season and now they have to play every three days for 11 months. We will not change anything saying the opposite.

"I understand it is an exceptional situation for everyone - restaurants, theatres, cinemas, museums.

"Everyone is struggling. We are not an exception. We have to believe in what we are doing and try and play a good game.

"We have three players who came back from national teams injured. We cannot control that. They let them play two games in four days without preparation. They are not machines."

While frustrated with the demands on players, Guardiola heaped praise on City star Riyad Mahrez ahead of his reunion with former club Leicester.

Mahrez, who won the 2016 Premier League title with Leicester, made his first appearance of the season in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Thursday following a positive coronavirus test during pre-season.

"Riyad is an exceptional player. He arrived late after the positive COVID-19 test only training for a few days before Wolves but I know how important he is for us," Guardiola said.

"For the quality, the passes and especially his mentality and he is aggressive to score goals. We will train the guys who didn't play [against Bournemouth] and we will see the way we are going to play and then which players will play."

Frank Lampard was in no mood to play the blame game after an error from Thiago Silva on his Premier League debut and says the Brazil centre-back will become crucial for Chelsea.

Silva was at fault for the second of West Brom's three first-half goals at The Hawthorns, as the Blues had to fight back from an error-strewn opening 45 minutes to draw 3-3 thanks to Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham.

It was the veteran defender's first action in the Premier League at the age of 36 and it was an unfortunate slip in an otherwise steady top-flight bow.

Chelsea boss Lampard said Silva is experienced enough to own up to his mistakes without the need for him to pile in too.

"Listen Thiago Silva is going to be fantastic for us, he's been incredible in his career," Lampard told a post-match news conference. 

"I will not look at him, I can talk about the mistakes - they're clear and we have to be open and honest about that, but I'll not put any blame on him. We're a team that has to react around that and to be fair the team did in the second half. 

"It's nothing on Thiago, I'm sure he'll stand up and say it was a mistake, other than that I thought he was faultless in the game.

"That's his first Premier League game done and in the bank, we'll get more from him as he gets fitter and the team gets fitter." 

Chelsea's equaliser had a hint of fortune, with Kai Havertz potentially handballing in the area in the build-up.

West Brom boss Slaven Bilic, who also felt there a was a foul prior to Hudson-Odoi bringing it back to 3-2, had no doubts the gal should have been chalked off.

"The third goal is very difficult to accept," Bilic said. "For me that is so clear that I don't even want to talk about it, it is obvious. 

"It's not maybe, it's not possibly handball, it is handball that's end of story, full stop. How someone can say that's not a handball is beyond me."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted a lack of sharpness was the reason behind Manchester United conceding goals as he ruled out adding a centre-back in the transfer window.

United secured a 3-2 win at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday thanks to a last-gasp penalty from Bruno Fernandes, who converted from the spot in the 10th minute of additional time.

However, having conceded three times when losing their Premier League opener at home to Crystal Palace, defensive deficiencies were again a topic of conversation after the final whistle on the south coast.

Neal Maupay and Solly March both scored for Brighton, the latter in the 95th minute to make it 2-2, while the home side were denied five times by the woodwork as they had 18 attempts at goal.

Leandro Trossard was particularly unlucky, becoming the first player to hit the woodwork on three occasions in a Premier League match since Cristiano Ronaldo in October 2006, as Solskjaer retained faith in Victor Lindelof despite his difficult outing against Palace.

"We've got many defenders here and I put Eric (Bailly) on to bolster the defence, following the runs of Trossard and Maupay," Solskjaer said in his media conference.

"For me, we've got enough good centre-backs here at the moment.

"When you concede chances and concede goals, there are two different things you can look at - it's either the team shape, or are there any individual mistakes.

"We're not in our best shape of form, our shape isn't there, we're not sharp enough to stop crosses or follow the runs.

"We're a little bit behind, that's more structural mistakes than individual mistakes. I thought Victor did well today."

United have been linked with a new defender, media reports suggesting they are interested in Porto left-back Alex Telles.

Solskjaer promised the players he currently has in his squad will improve as they play more matches after a shortened pre-season. They play Brighton again on Wednesday, this time in the EFL Cup. 

"We've got to be honest enough to say they created the most chances. Maybe 50-50 possession but they had loads of shots, big chances and that's not what we want. We need to improve a lot in the weeks coming forward," the Norwegian boss said.

"The spirit and character of the boys I don't question at all, the spirit is there. The sharpness and fitness might not be, but it is going to come.

"We've got three or four weeks to catch up and the more games we play, the more 90 minutes we get, we'll be sharper and sharper."

Ronald Koeman insisted he was not "the bad guy" in Luis Suarez's transfer away from Barcelona, although he could understand Lionel Messi's anger at the move.

Suarez, third on the list of all-time Barcelona goal scorers, left Camp Nou this week for Atletico Madrid.

It was reported Suarez was one of a number of senior stars informed by new coach Koeman they would have to leave the club following an underwhelming 2019-20 season.

But Koeman suggested some portrayals of this conversation were not entirely accurate, saying Suarez could have stayed but would have had a reduced role.

"It seemed that I had been the bad guy in this movie, but it is not like that," Koeman said ahead of the Blaugrana's LaLiga opener against Villarreal.

"Since the call [regarding Suarez's future], I have shown respect for him and I have always told him that it can be difficult to play but, if he stayed, he would be one of the squad.

"Before I signed the contract, the club was thinking about things, and I have tried to support those things. They are not just decisions of the coach.

"Luis and I respect each other and we have spoken clearly about his future. He had the opportunity to go to Atletico and I wish all the luck in the world."

Suarez's exit prompted a furious Instagram post from captain Messi, whose own attempted departure was blocked by the club.

Messi said Suarez did not deserve "to get kicked out like [he] did", adding he was not surprised by Barca's actions.

Koeman responded: "It is normal for him to be upset that a friend has left, but I have no doubt about Messi. I have seen him train."

The former Netherlands coach, who would not rule out moves for Lautaro Martinez or Memphis Depay, is not concerned by the tumultuous nature of his early Barca reign.

"If you ask the coaches who have been at Barca, they will surely tell you that they have never had a quiet day," he said.

"I knew that when I had to face changes I would have people in favour and others against. I knew it.

"No problem, it is part of being in the best club in the world, although I hope there is a little more peace of mind."

Luis Suarez said he was proud after being defended by Lionel Messi following his move to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona.

Suarez, 33, joined Atletico in a €6million move this week after six trophy-laden seasons at Camp Nou.

His close friend and Barcelona star Messi slammed the Catalan giants on Friday, saying Suarez was "kicked out" and "nothing surprises" him anymore.

Suarez, who won 13 trophies at Barca, said he was proud to have left such a positive impression.

"Leo knows me well and is well aware of my level of conviction. It's a source of pride to be able to leave a positive legacy behind me," he told reporters.

"I've now moved on and joining this competitive side is a major motivation."

Suarez scored 21 goals in 36 games last season, but new Barca coach Ronald Koeman had no room for the Uruguayan as he rebuilds the Blaugrana.

The forward said joining another big club in Spain was a huge motivation for him.

"The motivation of coming to a great from Spain, Atleti is," Suarez said. 

"It has great players, a competitive block that always fights to be at the top and for the league. 

"The fans and the coach [Diego Simeone] motivate a lot too."

Atletico begin their 2020-21 season at home to Granada on Sunday.

Frank Lampard believes the arrival of Edouard Mendy at Chelsea can help push Kepa Arrizabalaga, though the Blues manager did not rule out the possibility of the Spain international leaving.

Kepa was entrusted to start the Premier League season, but Chelsea have been in pursuit of another goalkeeper throughout the window.

Mendy arrived this week in a £22million transfer from Ligue 1 club Rennes, with Kepa having made a calamitous error in Chelsea's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend.

While Mendy will not start against West Brom on Saturday, Lampard did not confirm whether Kepa would play, and also did not close the door on the world's most expensive goalkeeper potentially leaving on loan.

'There's no clarity on that one yet, about what will happen, and I'm not going to speak about the maybes of what might happen in the future," Lampard told a news conference when asked if Kepa could be loaned out. 

"I think the most important thing right now is the game this weekend, in which Mendy won't be involved in. I'll have conversations with all the goalkeepers and be very open about it and we'll see the way to move forward.

"I'm not going to talk about who starts because I need to speak to the goalkeepers themselves and I'd much rather it be a conversation I had with them rather than they read it from yourselves.

"I think with the dynamic of the goalkeepers, we know we've had problems in the goalkeeping area in the first two games of the season and at times last year. We know that and I think we can be very honest and open about that, and Kepa is in that search for the best performance levels.

"Mendy comes in of course to be big competition in that area. Now it's about how we move forward, about trying to get that performance level as best as can be."

Mendy has followed in the footsteps of Chelsea great Petr Cech, who joined the club from Rennes in 2004 and now serves as the Blues' technical and performance advisor.

Recently, Cech has also been out on the training pitch with the goalkeeping unit.

"I think a combination of both," Lampard said when asked if Cech was coaching or simply keeping himself fit. 

"With Petr, he has so much to give on that side of things. Obviously his day job here is to be technical advisor and he's a great help to me on that front.

"I think having Petr train with the goalkeepers and bring his experience is a great thing because he still has great quality. I think he retired pretty young to be fair. So he's training and keeping fit, which I think is healthy for him and the goalkeepers in the squad and that's as far as it goes. I've got absolutely no problem with it.

"It's something that I think is positive for the goalkeepers as a whole and Petr enjoys doing it, so why not give back and give that experience to the goalkeepers."

LeBron James took on the responsibility of guarding Jamal Murray down the stretch because he knew it was "winning time" for the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4. 

With the Lakers holding a four-point lead with just over five minutes remaining in the final quarter, and Murray on 28 points on 12-for-17 shooting, James switched onto the Denver Nuggets guard. 

Murray was held to 0-for-2 shooting by the four-time NBA MVP, with his four points in the last five minutes coming from the free throw line. 

The Lakers consequently closed out a 114-108 victory to move 3-1 up in the Western Conference Finals. 

Asked why he put himself on Murray, James said: "I knew it was winning time, and Jamal had it going. The kid is special. He has an array of shots. Triple threat from the three, mid-range and also in the paint. 

"For me, it's just trusting my defensive keys. Trusting my study of film. Trusting personnel. And living with the results. I told my team-mates that I had him and everyone else can kind of stay at bay and stay home. 

"I was able to get a couple stops and we were able to rebound the basketball, which is the most important thing." 

James is averaging 34.4 minutes in the playoffs, which is the fewest of his career – his previous low was 38.2 with the Miami Heat in 2013-14. 

The 17-year veteran denied that having less time on court helped him stay fresh to guard Murray in the closing stages. 

"I don't reserve any energy. I'm on the floor, I give it all I've got. If I need a break, I ask for a break. Coach has done a good job of getting me out throughout the course of the game," said James. 

"I don't look at it as a reserve tank. I've got pretty good energy when I'm on the floor all the time. It's winning time and I don't have a chance or time to be feeling tired. 

"I'm tired now. That's when I'm tired, when it's zeros on the clock. That's when I'm tired. I'm not tired during the game."

Murray appreciated the respect the Lakers afforded him but felt the Nuggets, who have come back from 3-1 deficits to advance in the past two rounds, still should have found a way to win. 

He said: "I mean, they switched AD [Anthony Davis] on me to be on him, too. 

"Obviously, with LeBron I do the same stuff I do when I see [Alex] Caruso, when I see [Rajon] Rondo and KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], and Kawhi [Leonard], Paul George and Pat Bev [Patrick Beverley]. 

"I mean, I do the same thing. Appreciate the respect, but we've got to win the game."

Anthony Davis provided a positive assessment over the ankle injury he suffered in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, declaring: "I'll be fine."

Davis rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers' 114-108 triumph over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, putting them 3-1 up in the best-of-seven series and on the brink of a place in the NBA Finals.

Despite the setback, the 27-year-old still led the Lakers in terms of scoring, contributing 34 points as he played 41 minutes.

Game 5 takes place on Saturday, with Davis confident of being fit for action as Los Angeles aim to close out the Nuggets and progress to the NBA Finals.

"Ankle feels fine," the seven-time All-Star told the media. "Got tonight, tomorrow before the game to get it back to, I don't want to say back to where it was, but good enough to play.

"Rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I'll be fine."

While the Lakers are clearly firmly in control, they will be wary of allowing the Nuggets to climb off the canvas following their heroics in the previous two rounds.

Denver battled back from 3-1 deficits to see off the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, leading Davis to speak out about the dangers of taking anything for granted.

"You know, like I said last game, we've got to put them away," he said. 

"They are going to continue to fight, no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is, we just have to make sure we counter everything they do."

The Lakers have not reached the NBA Finals since 2010, which was also the last time they were crowned champions.

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