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.
According to San Jose Mercury News reporter Anthony Slater, Kerr reported Sunday that his symptoms were worsening and he would be unable to perform anytime soon.
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.
The Cavaliers are currently slated to compete against either the Toronto Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks in an upcoming conference semi-final, depending on the results of other games.