Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Cavs coach defends LeBron James after 'weird' loss to Celtics

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (23) gets off a shot between Boston Celtics' Kelly Olynyk (41) and Jae Crowder (99) during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Cleveland.

CLEVELAND - Of LeBron James' many attributes, one that was easily taken for granted over the past seven or so years is the perception that he is immune to having bad playoff games.

James's performance was the major talking point after Sunday's defeat, with the Cavs star finishing with just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. As James disappeared in the second half, so did Cleveland's ability to hit three-pointers.

"I believe we've got another level as well", said LeBron James, who had just become the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970 to score at least 30 points in eight straight playoff games.

But that's where the Celtics' success in the conference finals ends.

With leading scorer Isaiah Thomas out for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals and a pair of brutal beatdowns in the first two games, you can't blame them. It was the result of a clever play Celtics coach Brad Stevens designed, one of three perfectly executed plays in the final two minutes that the Celtics ran out of timeouts.

"I had a tough game, period", James told reporters after the game. "He's the best in the National Basketball Association and many get around Avery". "And it's one of those things where being around him for the last couple of years, he wants to play through any and all circumstances". It seems like you only ask questions when we lose.

Boston, of course, deserves all the credit for balling out in the second half and not giving up. "He didn't shoot the ball well, and we still had a 20-point lead". He got into shoving matches with a few Cavs, basically calling out Kevin Love for his Humpty-Dumpty performance while in shoving match with Jerebko.

What's much more important than Game 3 is how well James has played for the entirety of the postseason.

THE KING'S IN TROUBLEThe Celtics' lead continued to grow in the second quarter, and it swelled to as high as 16 points after a Bradley 3-pointer made it 49-33 more than midway through the second quarter. The team played one of their best quarters in the Conference Finals, but they had to keep fighting as Cleveland could not miss in the first quarter.

"It was a weird game, a weird-feeling game", Lue said. Let us regroup. Let us regroup, and all the narrative and everything that was going on, let's regroup, and let's get back to playing desperate basketball, which they did tonight.

"I couldn't see, but I knew it was something", said Brown, whose answer can be seen in the video at the top of this post.

What are the chances that James will play poorly two games in a row? Even when they got good shots, they couldn't finish them, which needs to happen for a team with championship aspirations. You always come around when we lose. It's our job to make sure we make everything hard for them and chip away. But Celtics' fans will understand why the team must trade its most famous and popular player if they are to hang another banner at the Garden.

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