James had, by far, his worst performance of the postseason.
But it was Irving who was the undeniable star of the show for his spellbinding third quarter masterpiece that transformed the game.
Lue said James was “in good spirits” and that no one was pinning the loss on him. All of team’s top defenders attempted to contain Irving, but none of them had any success. It took Marcus Smart taking and converting an unsustainable amount of triples to even get to that point. Terry Rozier gave it a shot but had no luck.
Avery Bradley gave the neutral National Basketball Association fan the most exciting moment of the playoffs, and certainly made sure that more people will be paying close attention to this series.
“In the back of my mind, I was like, I’m saying to myself, ‘We can not – they can not tie up this series, ‘” Irving said. “That makes him special”. “He’s a great finisher”. James got himself into foul trouble hilariously early, racking up his fourth foul in the second quarter.
Jae Crowder watched his a 3-pointer from the left wing rattle out and the Cavs took the ball the other way. Smith started the spurt with a 3-pointer, Irving made a layup and a 3, James dropped in two free throws and Irving contributed two more layups. Traveling back to Cleveland down 0-2 and without your best player?
Part of the reason that James is already in position to reach the top in this prestigious category is the fact that one more win means that he’ll be playing in his seventh straight finals and eighth overall.
Irving scored 36 points after that, including 21 during a game-turning third quarter in which Cleveland outscored the Celtics 40-23.
“I didn’t have it”, James said afterward, and that was no understatement.
“You have to love his improvement”, said Webber on Avery Bradley. In addition to Irving, James eventually found his groove and finished with 34 points, and Kevin Love added 17 points and a playoff career-high 17 rebounds.
The Celtics stretched the lead to 16 points, 49-33 in the next minute and a half.
So now the Cavs head back to Boston on Thursday as they look to finish off the Celtics. That dates back to the series in which they sweep the Pacers, and ever since that game, James has been brilliant. It’s not enough. He knows that.”My adrenaline is still going”, he said.A moment later, he added, “That’s all I’ve got to say about my performance”.
“I think the Celtics are maybe two years ahead of their [rebuild] plan”. It wasn’t a huge sample, but in the four minutes that lineup was together while the best player in the world sat, they had a net rating of plus-26.4.
The Celtics did so Tuesday night and were well on their way to victory by halftime.
“Irving was incredible at the end of the third, and then obviously LeBron had all those baskets in the fourth”. Sports can be the weirdest thing in the world, and it is easy to forget that both teams have the same amount of professional basketball players, and there is always enough talent for insane games to come from anyone on any side. The only thing Boston’s win accomplished was shortening what would have been a nine-day break between games to seven.