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Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: LeBron's 44 wins Game 4

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Surprise, surprise!? LeBron James torched the Celtics for 44 points in the Cavaliers 111-102 win in Game 4 on Monday night, tying the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2, with Game 5 set for Boston on Wednesday night at 8:30 on ESPN.

 

LeBron hit 17-of-28 shots, a 3-pointer and 9-of-13 free throws en route to the 25th 40-point game of his playoff career, and sixth of this postseason, as he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for No. 1 on the all-time list for made field goals in the playoffs (2,356). He also had five rebounds, three assists, two steals and seven turnovers, but the key to this win was LeBron going crazy in the first quarter (and the entire game) and helping the Cavs open up a 34-18 lead. In fact, the Celtics would win the three remaining quarters, but only by a total of seven points, allowing the Cavaliers to hang on for the nine-point win, although they were never really challenged by the Celtics all night (they got no closer than seven points, and it came in the closing minutes). The Cavs basically held a comfortable 10-point lead for the entire night, after the first quarter. LeBron also racked up his 106th 30-point game in the postseason and there’s only one guy with more – Michael Jordan – who finished his career with 109 of them. Yes, LeBron could pass him with a trip to the Finals, or tie him if this series goes seven games.

 

Kyle Korver added 14 points, two 3-pointers, four rebounds and three blocks (what?) off the bench, Tristan Thompson had a 13 & 12 double-double as the starting center, and also had a steal and two blocks, and George Hill came through with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in a starting role. Kevin Love had just nine points and 11 rebounds on 3-of-12 shooting, but most of his glass-cleaning dirty work came in second half, as he had a huge 3-pointer and putback basket to help the Cavs held off the young Celtics. J.R. Smith even chipped in with nine points, three boards, three assists and three 3-pointers, and Larry Nance Jr. added seven points, three rebounds, a steal and two blocks in just 10 minutes.

 

The Cavs are trying to become just the 20th team out of 300 to overcome an 0-2 deficit, while the Celtics are still undefeated (9-0) at home in these playoffs. It’s a good thing they’ve got homecourt advantage, as they’re just 1-6 on the road this postseason. We’ve been saying that LeBron just needed a little help from his friends, and he got it in Games 3 and 4, and now the Celtics are facing the real possibility of facing LeBron in a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. And no team ever wants to do that. And that’s assuming they stay undefeated at home in Game 5.

 

So far, the home teams have gotten it done, and I fully expect Boston to win Game 5 on Wednesday, and for the Cavs to take Game 6 at Cleveland on Friday night, setting up an epic Game 7 in Boston on Sunday night in prime time.

 

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The Celtics toyed with a lineup change, but ended up sticking with Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Al Horford, even though coach Brad Stevens didn’t show his cards until the last possible second. Injured Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward haven’t been in Cleveland with their teammates, staying home to rehab, but should give the team a spark on the bench on Wednesday at home. The Celtics also hit just 7-of-26 shots in the first quarter to score 18 points, which is a big reason that the Cavaliers ended up cruising to the win last night.

 

The Celtics got another balanced attack from their eight-man rotation, as every starter scored in double figures, and their three bench players combined for 19 points. Brown led the way with 25 points, six boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 10-of-23 shooting, and Tatum added 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting, turning in a poor fantasy line with just two rebounds, one assist and nothing else. Rozier added 16 points, six boards, 11 assists, three steals and three 3-pointers, Horford had 15 points, seven boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, and starter Morris had 10 points, three boards, a steal and a 3-pointer in his 24 minutes. Marcus Smart played 31 minutes off the bench and got plowed over by LeBron more than once, finishing with eight points, five boards, five assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and Aron Baynes had eight points, seven boards and a block off the bench.

 

The Celtics are young, from their coach to the bottom of their roster, so it’s not all that surprising they got blistered in the last two games in Cleveland. The pressure is fully on for Game 5 in Boston, and if they win they’ll likely live to see a Game 7 against LeBron. And if they lose Game 5, my guess is this series is over.

 

My prediction is that the Celtics will win Game 5 at home, the Cavaliers will take Game 6 in Cleveland, and then we shall all be treated to an epic Game 7, featuring LeBron and his crew of misfits against one of the most exciting, young teams in the league. But you can bet that I won’t be betting against LeBron if this series ends up giving up a Game 7. Let’s go!

 

Western Conference Finals Notes

 

Andre Iguodala’s X-rays were negative on his left leg, but he’s being called doubtful for Game 4 on Tuesday night. This is kind of a big deal for the Warriors, but they’ll simply roll with Kevon Looney, along with some Nick Young and Shaun Livingston if Iguodala can’t go. Really, as long as Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are healthy (and they are), nothing else matters.

 

For the Rockets, Chris Paul says his left calf is fine and says he’ll be ready to go for Game 4 tonight. “I’m OK,” he said. “Trying to get treatment and all of that and be ready for tomorrow.” I’m sure he will be ready to go, but he clearly didn’t look right in Game 3’s embarrassing 126-85 loss. Game 4 is tonight at 9 p.m. on TNT. See you there!



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
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