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LeBron James delivers throwback Game 3 performance, choking on the court and melting down afterwards 05.22.17 at 10:40 am ET
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LeBron James was held scoreless in the final 16:31 of Game 3 Sunday. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

LeBron James was held scoreless in the final 16:31 of Game 3 Sunday. (Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a throwback performance for LeBron James. Earlier in his career, James was dogged with accusations of playoff choke jobs and off-court petulance. He’s shed those labels in recent years, winning three world championships while serving as one of the league’s great ambassadors. 

But on Sunday night, the best player in the game reverted to his old habits. 

Following an abysmal 11-point performance, his lowest postseason output since Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers, James blasted a reporter afterwards who had the audacity to ask him what happened. Kenny Roda of WHBC in Canton, Ohio wanted to know why James could never get into a rhythm. In response, The King put him down.  

“I was just pretty poor. What do you want me to say?” he said. “It seems you like you only ask questions when we lose, huh? It’s this weird thing with you, Kenny. You always come around when we lose. That’s fine. Yeah, OK.”

Roda defended himself on Twitter, saying he “asks questions win or lose.” 

Prior to his podium sniping, James got into it with a heckler in the stands. The fan was reportedly removed from the arena while shouting his college stats

Following a tough playoff loss, there are probably few things more irritating to deal with than jeers from unruly fans and negative questions from radio reporters. But that’s part of the expectation when it comes to playing in the NBA. At this stage in his decorated career, James should be above picking fights with them. 

Six months ago, James was campaigning in Ohio with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, encouraging people to vote in the crucial swing state. But on Sunday, he acted like he did six years ago, when he played a leading role in the infamous “Decision” special

It shows that even an all-time great can have a bad day. 

Read More: LeBron James,
Sensitive superstar? LeBron James blasts reporter after game: ‘You only ask questions when we lose’ at 9:31 am ET
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LeBron James does not like being questioned after losses by the likes of you, Kenny.

That’s not some obscure South Park reference. It’s what happened after the Celtics dealt the Cavaliers their first loss of the postseason on Sunday night with an epic comeback, and a Cleveland radio reporter decided to ask The King a slightly negative question.

Kenny Roda of WHBC in Canton, Ohio asked James two questions — what happened to the defense in the third and fourth quarters, and then one about James struggling.

“You couldn’t get into a rhythm tonight based on their defense or just not feeling it, or what?” he asked.

James did not take kindly to the followup.

“I was just pretty poor. What do you want me to say?” he said. “It seems you like you only ask questions when we lose, huh? It’s this weird thing with you, Kenny. You always come around when we lose. That’s fine. Yeah, OK.”

Roda took to Twitter to defense himself, noting that he has attended every home game this postseason. “Ask questions win or lose,” he Tweeted.

That’s not the way James sees it. After leaving the podium, he continued to complain loudly about Roda in a hallway outside the interview room.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Kenny Roda, LeBron James
Avery Bradley hits 3 to shock Cavaliers at buzzer in Game 3, Marcus Smart huge 05.21.17 at 11:07 pm ET
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May 21, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) shoots over the defense of  Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half in game three of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Smart shoots over the defense of Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson during the first half in Game 3 of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics pulled off a miracle Sunday night. 

Avery Bradley’s 3-point shot spun on the back on the rim and fell through with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Celtics to a shocking 111-108 win over the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

The win narrows Cleveland’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-7 series and snaps Cleveland’s 13-game record-tying playoff win streak.  

Playing without Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury (and reportedly a right hip labrum tear that could require surgery), the Celtics overcame a 21-point second-half deficit. 

Marcus Smart finished with 27 points on 7-of-10 3-point shooting. Game 4 will be Tuesday night in Cleveland before the series moves back to Boston for Game 5 Thursday.

“When it’s a big moment, you know that kid is going to rise to the occasion. He always has,” Brad Stevens said of Smart. 

Just 48 hours after suffering the most embarrassing loss in their playoff history, the Celtics staged arguably the most unlikely playoff win ever. 

“I really felt like in first half we played way better than the score.” Stevens said of his team’s 66-50 deficit. “I was hoping law of averages would kick in at some point. Some of those shots were just incredible. Started slow in third quarter. Our guys were better towards end of third, goes back and forth and we were lucky to win.”

The Celtics were down 77-56 before starting their epic comeback. LeBron James finished just 4-of-13 and 11 points in 45 minutes. The Cavaliers were just 2-for-17 in the second half. 

Using a scorching first-half display from Kevin Love and another powerful effort from Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers seemed on their way to setting a new NBA playoff standard with their 14th consecutive postseason win while pulling within one game of the NBA finals for a third straight season and putting LeBron James in the finals for a seventh straight season. 

The Celtics went with a starting lineup of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson. Midway through the first quarter, Johnson had to go to the locker room with team doctor Brian McKeon after injuring his shoulder. Johnson would return to action in the second quarter.

The Cavaliers came out on fire from deep, hitting nine threes in the first quarter, a NBA playoff high this season for a quarter. Kevin Love was a one-man wrecking crew, draining five of his seven 3-point attempts, falling one shy of the NBA playoff mark for a single quarter set by Boston’s Antoine Walker in 2002 in the Game 3 against Philadelphia. 

Overall, the Cavaliers hit 9-of-13 from deep to take a 35-24 lead after the first quarter. The Cavaliers were 11-0f-17 from the field in the first quarter and the nine threes were the most in the playoffs since Boston drilled nine against Philadelphia in the decisive Game 5 33-point blowout on May 3, 2002. 

Down 44-29, the Celtics used a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to eight. 

(For a full box score, click here.)

Love continued to kill the Celtics in the second, hitting two more threes and then with a minute to go, he took a handoff from J.R. Smith under the Cavs basket and executed a perfect length-of-the-court chest pass that dropped into the hands of LeBron James for a layup. 

On the next possession, J.R. Smith hit an off-balance 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers their biggest lead at 66-48. There was simply not much the Celtics could do but shrug. The Cavaliers made exactly 60 percent of their shots (21-of-35) in the opening half. Love finished the first half making 7-of-10 from 3-point range and 22 points. James had just eight points and the Cavaliers still led, 66-50, at the half. 

It was the most-competitive half of the series to this point in the series. The Cavaliers led by 22 points in at the half of Game 1 and 41 points in Game 2. 

The Cavaliers quickly built their lead up to 20 points in the first two minutes of the third quarter before getting a bit sloppy. LeBron James had a layup at the rim and gave it up for a bounce pass in the paint for Tristan Thompson. It resulted in a turnover. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love
LeBron James praises Celtics fans: ‘They’re born with pump’ 05.17.17 at 4:58 pm ET
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LeBron James has nothing but love for Celtics fans. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

LeBron James has nothing but love for Celtics fans. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)

Cavaliers star LeBron James appears to have a lot of respect for Celtics fans. 

When asked to predict the atmosphere inside T.D. Garden when Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals begins Wednesday, James said he thinks it will be raucous –– like it always is. 

“I don’t think Boston fans need any more pumping up,” James said, via ESPN. “They’re born with ‘pump,’ if that makes any sense.”

This will be the sixth time James takes on the Celtics in a playoff series. The last postseason contest he played at T.D. Garden was Game 6 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when he put up 45 points to lead the Heat to a blowout victory. In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, Celtics fans were heard cheering their team on

There have been a couple of memorable interactions between James and the Garden faithful in recent years. In 2015, he gave his sneakers to a special needs high school student after the fan was honored at halftime. 

Never afraid to talk about social issues, James also spoke kindly of Boston in the aftermath of the Adam Jones incident earlier this month. He said he’s never heard a racist taunt when playing in the city.  

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James,
Potential Celtics No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz once called out LeBron James at 3:18 pm ET
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The Celtics seem likely to select Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s draft and he could be the perfect Celtic.

Looking back on the former Washington point guard’s Twitter page, it shows in 2013 he called out LeBron James.

The tweet read: Shut up lebron. It was accompanied with a Vine where he commented on James’ hairline.

“Man, shut up, LeBron,” Fultz said. “You can’t even see your hairline, fool. You’re going bald in the next 24 hours. The next game, you’re going to be bald. Shut up.”

Read More: LeBron James, Markelle Fultz,
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue likens potential Finals matchup with Warriors to classic 1980s Lakers vs. Celtics 05.11.17 at 1:18 pm ET
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Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue and the Cavs may not be looking ahead to an NBA Finals three-match with Golden State just yet, but everyone else is. And Lue understands why.

Speaking to reporters after practice on Wednesday, the Cleveland head coach compared a potential third straight meeting with Steph Curry and Co. in the NBA Finals to a classic matchup of yore with local significance — Magic vs. Bird.

“Is it a problem? I don’t think so,” Lue told reporters. “I think a lot of people wanted to see Boston and the Lakers back in the day. I think nowadays, a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. And it’s not a problem. Right now, it’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball.”

The two squads have split their first two Finals encounters, with the Warriors outlasting a depleted Cleveland squad in 2015, and James exacting his revenge by overcoming a 3-1 deficit last year.

However, since then the Warriors have added Kevin Durant to take their game to another level. Both clubs are unbeaten this postseason, with Cleveland winning by an average of 16.5 points a game, and Cleveland’s average margin checking in at 9.6 points.

“So two of the teams that have been in back-to-back Finals — so, why not? Why not want to see it again?” Lue told reporters. “I don’t see why it would be a problem. I think last year had some of the best ratings, I think, in NBA history. I think now with them adding [Kevin] Durant and the way they’re playing, the way we’re playing, it can be even higher.”

Read More: Cavaliers-Warriors, Celtics-Wizards, LeBron James, NBA Finals
LeBron James (36), Cavaliers pummel Celtics to claim first place in Eastern Conference 04.05.17 at 11:18 pm ET
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Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics arrived at the Garden on Wednesday believing they could claim sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. They left licking their wounds after being routed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Behind 36 points from LeBron James and a suffocating defensive effort — not to mention a domination of the boards — the Cavaliers cruised to a 114-91 victory that gave them first place in the East with four games left to play.

The Celtics led 20-19 after one, but Cleveland (51-27) took control with a 38-point second quarter to open a 57-42 halftime lead and the C’s never seriously threatened.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics (50-28) with 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but he got absolutely no help from his supporting cast. The C’s shot just 7-for-33 on 3-pointers (.212) and put only three other players in double figures, led by Jae Crowder’s 13.

The Celtics were outrebounded 51-38 and allowed Kevin Love to grab 16 boards alongside his 15 points.

For more on the game, including how badly it exposed the Celtics as playoff pretenders, check out this column.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Eastern Conference standings, Isaiah Thomas
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