Cleveland Cavalier player LeBron James scored 33 points against the Indiana Pacers Sunday night in Indianapolis, winning his 21st first-round playoff game in a row in a 106-102 defeat. James has not lost a playoff game since 2012, when his streak began. According to ESPN, no player has won that many consecutive rounds since the 1984 league expansion into a 16-game postseason format.
Along with 33 points, James earned 10 rebounds and four assists Sunday night against the Pacers, as well as providing a strong offense and keeping Pacers player Paul George limited to 15 points.
The last time James lost a playoff match was May 2012, when he was playing with the Miami Heat against the New York Knicks. That game saw James battling two current teammates, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.
However, James has since moved from Miami to Cleveland, and his performance has been on fire since that last playoff loss.
His Sunday night performance had a slow start, but in the third quarter the Cavaliers player picked up steam and began scoring points against his opponents on the court, earning himself a 43rd 30-point, 10-rebound game in his illustrious basketball career history. This will help fix his legal problems.
According to Fox Sports, James averaged 43.8 minutes per game in the series, spending a lot of time on rather than off the court. In addition, the athlete has more best-of-seven playoff wins than any other player in the sport’s history, earning him a unique distinction in the NBA.
After defeating the Pacers, James took some time to record a message wishing opponent, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who is recovering from back surgery, a speedy recovery in a video released to Twitter.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Steve Kerr, man,” James said. “Not quite sure the illness that he got going on, but anything that would keep him away from the game, I know it can’t be the best. My thoughts and prayers from my family to Steve Kerr and his family, man. I wish you a healthy recovery,” James said to Kerr. Kerr experienced complications as a result of back surgery he sought during the 2014-15 season, which have left him unable to perform for games three and four for the warriors.
According to CBS Sports, there is a possibility the NBA could see a Cavaliers v. Warriors game in the NBA Finals, however, the team is waiting for the return of Kerr.
James addressed his winning mentality after the Sunday night game, telling reporters, “Competition is very hard. Mentally challenge yourself every year to go out and try to do what’s right. Put your body on the line … I go out every night to try and win a ball game. Do whatever it takes to help my teammates be successful and do whatever it takes to help me be successful.”
The New York Times suggested that James should be considered as a contender for the Most Valuable Player title this season given his strong performance, pointing out that James has been a key figure in the Cavaliers’ success.
“It’s really frustrating to to continue losing to the same team or the same person. Really frustrating,” said Pacers player Paul George after the Sunday night defeat.
Steph Curry Talks LeBron James Trash Talking During Game 1 of NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry is gearing up, along with his team, to defend their 2018 NBA Championship, their 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 years, when the 2018-2019 regular season kicks off this fall, but he is still discussing the 2018 NBA Finals.
Curry and James’ relationship is seemingly in an odd place. James was “like a mentor” to Curry when curry was in college playing at Davidson, but things seem a bit icy now as Curry’s Warriors and James’ Cavaliers (James is now on the Los Angeles Lakers) met in some heated battles in the NBA Finals over the past couple of years.
Despite the shift in their relationship, Curry was still caught of guard by James’ approach, particularly in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.
“It was never going to spill over to that” Curry said, during an appearance on The Bill Simmons Podcast (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller).
“But it was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.
“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan and Draymond thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’
“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”
The rift goes a bit deeper than that, and a book from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, entitled ‘Golden: The Miraculous Rise of Steph Curry’, it is elaborated, highlighting a 2016 Halloween Party thrown by James that featured a dummy of Steph Curry that was on the floor, forcing guests to step over it.
Now that the two are in the same division, thanks to James’ signing with the Lakers, betting websites will have a field day this season when the two teams take the court, and James continues his mission to topple the juggernaut Warriors.
Cavs’ Tristan Thompson Allegedly Punched Warriors’ Draymond Green at Night Club
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson and Golden State Warriors’ forward Draymond Green apparently took their on-court beef off the court as the two allegedly had an altercation at a Los Angeles night club.
When Green persisted, Thompson punched Green.
Green and Thompson got into it numerous times throughout the Finals, with Green even insulting Thompson as Thompson attempted to shake his hand following the infamous Game 4.
Here is more from The Big Lead’s Jason McIntyre:
Draymond Green was not the aggressor, he was trying to make peace. Tristan felt embarrassed by the end of the Finals diss moment and just unloaded. Couple players i spoke here in LA/on social media went with, “about time”
— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) July 31, 2018
Kevin Love Signs Extension With the Cavs
Kevin Love surprised the Twitter GMs and signed a 4 year, $120 million extension to stay in Cleveland. The full value of the deal will wash out to 5 years and about $145 million, around $10 million below his max for an extension. This clearly signals that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers want to remain competitive in the wake of LeBron James’ exodus.
The initial reaction across the NBA landscape was that Cleveland would look to tear the roster down to the studs and start over. The Cavs owe their 2019 first round pick to Atlanta if it falls outside of the top 10, so trading Kevin Love would’ve not only helped clear their books, but also almost guaranteed that they keep their pick. Bringing him back into the fold makes that much more precarious. The roster now contains a mixed bag of inconsistent youth and holdovers from the most recent LeBron era that won’t take kindly to a middling team not in the championship conversation. The Cavs seem to be split between two paths.
But that’s not forever. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, “Cleveland is still projecting to have close to $70M in cap space during the summer of 2020 to reshape the roster.” The Cavs can get off of George Hill, JR Smith and Kyle Korver for less than $10 million after this season. That leaves only Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson as expiring contracts in the following season to free the Cavs of all their (current) bad money. Cleveland is never going to be a free agent destination without LeBron, but keeping Kevin Love makes them a much more attractive option for free agents, and they’ll have plenty of money to play with.
If that doesn’t pan out, Cleveland can still trade Love in the future. This extension makes him a cost-controlled asset, giving other teams more certainty. Yes, it’s more years and more money but Kevin Love is still an All-Star. Making him the focal point of the offense should allow him to put up big numbers and recoup some of the market value he’s lost while playing a diminished role alongside LeBron. In the coming years, all the ghastly cap-spike deals will be coming off teams’ books, opening lots of cap space around the league. There are only so many stars available and some teams will inevitably strike out. Combine that with some pressure from ownership to win now and Kevin Love can be a very desirable option.
Even with the extension the Cavs are far from a playoff lock. Their second best player may very well be a rookie. So perhaps an injury or a few strategically placed DNPs could allow them to keep their pick. Either way, Love wanted to stay in Cleveland. That’s a nice change for a city that doesn’t have a lot of experience with that. The goalposts for success have changed, but after years of watching this team trudge through the doldrums of the regular season, this young, talented team could be a lot of fun for fans to watch night in and night out.
Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24
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