LeBron James finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, though he committed six turnovers. Two of those wins came in Toronto, which nearly doesn't count because Toronto is essentially Cleveland's second home.
James isn't going to go away quietly.
"I just enjoy playing in the big moments, in the big games".
One sign of that fatigue was a play in the opening minutes of the third quarter when James, finding himself on the perimeter in a favorable matchup against Aron Baynes, was able to easily blow by the Celtics center. I know he'll be great tomorrow, and then after that we'll see. Now approaching his 99th and 100th games of the season, does this look like a guy ready to carry his team to beat a superior roster twice in the next four days? "But there's no question in my mind he'll bounce back tomorrow". The home team has won every game so far in the series, and none has been closer than nine points.
The dustup occurred with about 10:47 remaining in the first half Wednesday at TD Garden. The Western Conference Finals series is tied, 2-2. His team is one win away from its first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. "We understand that LeBron is going to hit tough shots, make plays, but we've all got to help each other out". Through three games, the Cavaliers have been unable to even look competitive against the Celtics on the road.
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"The goal for that change was we're going to have to play big some", Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. If we continue to play defense the way we've been playing, I do love our chances.
In Round One against the Pacers, the Cavaliers went 1-2 in IN while averaging just 93.7 points on 43.6 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3-point range. They outrebounded the Cavaliers, 45-39, and were more careful with the ball. The Celtics were near-perfect at the foul line, and had just eight turnovers to the Cavs' 15.
After the game, a reporter asked James about how he felt, which he seemed happy to address.
"He looked a little exhausted to me", Lue said. "I think he's just starting to see his potential".
But if the Cavaliers can't win these next two games, those accomplishments from James will be lost in the shadow of the fact that he failed in his attempt to get these Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for four straight years.
Should the Cavs come up short of a Finals appearance this season, which would mark the first time they've failed to make the championship round since the Akron native returned to the franchise in 2014, talk of another free agent exit this summer will only grow louder. Boston fans chanted "Celts in six!" near the end of Wednesday's game. George Hill is 4-of-13 in Boston. Why would that change in a potential Game 7?