Cavs look to help banged up James
LeBron James recovered quickly from his neck strain. There’s still too much stress on his back.
He’s carrying the Cavaliers. It’s a springtime tradition.
As has been the case for much of his 15-year career, James has had to perform at an extraordinary level throughout these playoffs, most recently in Cleveland’s Game 2 loss at Boston.
Bouncing back after taking a blow to the jaw from Jayson Tatum’s shoulder that violently twisted his head and sent a chill down the spines of Cleveland fans, James finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
It was not enough, however. His teammates failed him and the Cavs fell into a 2-0 hole in the Eastern Conference finals.
Kevin Love (22 points, 15 rebounds) helped, so did Kyle Korver (11 points, two threepointers) and Tristan Thompson (eight points, seven rebounds). But too many other Cavs ranged from mediocre to awful.
If Cleveland is to even the series at home, that has to change starting in Game 3 on Saturday.
“We have to ramp it up,” said Cavs guard J.R. Smith, who didn’t score in Game 2 and committed a critical flagrant foul. “We’re playing too slow. We’re making ’Bron play hero ball, which is tough to do, especially in the Eastern Conference finals. We got to help him. With that said, we have to give him an opportunity to make him feel confident to give us the ball so we can make the right plays. We got to help him, and he’s got to help us.”
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said James “did everything” in practice Thursday, but the 33-yearold had left the floor by the time media members were allowed in for interviews. James was spotted in the fitness and training area inside the facility. Road test ahead: Home-court advantage has proved to be a valuable commodity for the Celtics this postseason.
Boston is 9-0 at TD Garden during these playoffs and has blistered opponents early in games, shooting 47 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the three-point line. It’s often led to cushions that have helped the Celtics sustain opponents’ runs in the second half.
But after boasting the thirdbest road record in the NBA during the regular season, the Celtics have looked like a different team since the postseason began. They are 1-4 away from their building in the playoffs, shooting 41 percent overall and 31 percent from beyond the arc on the road.
That can’t persist if Boston is to have success as the series shifts to Cleveland.
Marcus Smart, who was all over the court in the Celtics’ Game 2 win, didn’t take any offense to Lue’s comment that the Celtics have “shown they haven’t played that well on the road.”
“We haven’t played well. We know that and understand that,” Smart said. “We understand that other teams see that and try to exploit it. But that’s the beauty about this game. It just takes one game. You never know. Things change. Our confidence is high. Who knows?”
Budenholzer hired: The Bucks announced the hiring of Mike Budenholzer as their head coach.
“The tremendously supportive fans in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin are waiting and ready,” Budenholzer, the former Hawks coach, said in a statement released by the Bucks. “Now it’s up to us to put all the pieces together, and I can’t wait to get started.”