LeBron forced to carry Cavs

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Tom Withers

IN­DE­PEN­DENCE, OHIO » 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 (four 3-point­ers) and Tris­tan Thomp­son (8 points, 7 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 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-year-old 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.

Lue said the Cavs spent time break­ing down video of the two losses. There was plenty to dis­sect.

CHARLES KRUPA — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Cleve­land’s LeBron James, left, shoots over Bos­ton’s Mar­cus Mor­ris dur­ing the sec­ond half in Game 2 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals on Tues­day in Bos­ton.

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