SportsPulse: LeBron James finished Game 2 with a 40-plus-point triple-double but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics remained undefeated in Boston in the playoffs.
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In what seems like an annual rite of spring, LeBron James is playing phenomenally and carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs.
James is averaging 33.4 points a game this postseason, the second-best mark of his playoff career and highest since 2009. He is averaging a playoff career-high 9.2 assists a game and shooting 54% from the field.
After powering a sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the previous round, though, James’ heroics have yet to yield a victory in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite a 42-point triple-double from James, the Cavaliers lost Tuesday and find themselves in a 2-0 series hole against the Boston Celtics.
J.R. Smith said he and the rest of the Cavs’ supporting cast deserve their share of the blame for the deficit.
“We have to ramp it up,” said Smith, who missed all seven of his shots and went scoreless in Game 2. “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.
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“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.”
Kevin Love has scored 17 and 22 points in the first two games against the Celtics, but the rest of the Cavaliers have struggled to consistently make positive contributions on offense.
Cleveland’s starting backcourt of Smith and George Hill has been particularly bad in the East finals. The pair has combined for 12 total points on 5-of-24 shooting and 1-of-11 from three-point range in the first two games against Boston.
“Make shots, that’s the only thing we can do,” said Smith, who has not made a three-pointer in the series. “Right now ‘Bron and Kev are working overly hard trying to carry us. We just got to step up and do our job.”
In the Cavs’ sweep of the Raptors in the second round, Smith averaged 12.5 points a game and Hill averaged 10.3.
“I’ve just got to be more assertive. I’ve got to play with that edge like I did in the second series,” Hill said. “There’s no one to blame but myself. You’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?'”
Game 3 is Saturday night in Cleveland.