Basketball fans couldn't help but feel some sympathy for LeBron James in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. After posting 51 points on 19-32 shooting, along with eight rebounds and eight assists, James watched as J.R. Smith's blunder at the end of regulation may have cost the Cleveland Cavaliers a legitimate shot at a title.

Instead, the defending champion Golden State Warriors came away with an overtime win and remain the clear favorites to win the finals. Unless the Cavs step up on Sunday, they could again see an early exit in the title series after losing in five games in 2017.

James figures to once again feature prominently in Game 2, but if Tyronn Lue's squad expects to leave Oakland with a tied series James will need some help. Fortunately for James, three players can be relied upon to provide the Cavs a boost.

Tristan Thompson

Draymond Green got the best of the Cavs' big man in Game 1, provoking him into an altercation near the end of overtime. Thompson was ejected and walked off the court with an unimpressive one field goal and five rebounds. Expect the 27-year-old to be more aggressive in the lane and to play tougher defense on Sunday night. The Warriors may have a harder time getting easy shots in the paint should Thompson play with more focus and determination.

Kevin Love

While Love scored 21 points to go along with 13 rebounds, he converted just one of his eight three-point shot attempts. Love's outside shooting has been erratic throughout the playoffs, but it would be surprising if he has another poor shooting night from beyond the arc in Game 1. James will likely find Love open for some key shots and the veteran forward should be poised to knock them down.

J.R. Smith

When an NBA player commits a big mistake they often make amends. Smith, for all of the criticism directed at him, is capable of giving opposing defenses headaches and should be at his best in Game 2. The Warriors won't have Klay Thompson at full strength, so Smith can take advantage of weaker perimeter defense.

LeBron James will need some key players to step up against the Warriors in Game 2. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images