Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: All Hail the King

Saturday, May 26, 2018


LeBron James refused to allow the Cavaliers season to end on Friday night, popping off for 46 points on 17-of-33 shooting (7-of-11 from the stripe) to go with 11 boards, nine dimes, five trey-bombs, three steals, one block and three turnovers in Cleveland’s 109-99 Game 6 win over Boston. It was a classic King James performance with the Cavs’ season on the line, replete with picturesque passes, chase-down swats and some clutch buckets down the stretch highlighted by one of the mightiest mean-mugs in postseason history.

 

 

The Cavs lost Kevin Love just five minutes into the game after a head-to-head collision with Jayson Tatum, so James did what he had to, rocking a 39.4 usage rate through 46 minutes of floor time as he carried the Cavs to victory. Over the past seven elimination games, it’s either been a 40-spot or a triple-double from The Chosen One, and with James’ 46 points on Friday night he upped his elimination game average to 34.1 points per game, which ranks as the highest average in NBA history amongst players who have participated in at least five elimination games. This was also his seventh 40-point performance in this 2018 postseason run, which tied him with Michael Jordan for the second-most such performances in playoff history, putting him just one game behind Jerry West for the No. 1 spot. When James’ 3-point shot is falling, he becomes impossible to guard, and that’s exactly what happened on Friday night with King James going 5-of-7 from 3-point range. LBJ did have a bit of an injury scare late in the game when Larry Nance fell back into his right leg, but he played through it and wasn’t sporting a noticeable limp after the game, so I seriously doubt he’ll sit out Sunday’s Game 7 in Boston.

 

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Jeff Green started the second-half with Love exiting the game early and he finished with 14 points (4-of-10 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), three rebounds, two assists, two swats, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 31 minutes. The Cavs didn’t officially declared if Love was under the concussion protocol testing, but considering he’s had two concussions since 2016, there’s a definite possibility he could be forced to the sidelines for Game 7. Green will likely get the start on Sunday if Love can’t give it a go, and he’ll need to step it up in a big way for the Cavs to have any shot of advancing to the Finals. Larry Nance should also see some more minutes falling his way considering he closed out the Game 6 victory ahead of Tristan Thompson, tallying 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one assist over 22 minutes. Head coach Tyronn Lue has been hesitant to play Nance much more than 20 minutes a night through the postseason thus far, but if Love is unavailable, I’d expect Nance to be flirting with minutes in the mid-20s.

 

George Hill was the X-factor in Cleveland’s win, coming through with 20 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and one turnover in 34 minutes. He did a nice job of getting into the paint and creating his own shot, and he also got his numbers efficiently, going 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe for a sterling 68.3 true shooting percentage. The 20 points accounted for a 2018 postseason-high for Hill, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep that momentum going into Boston. So far, he’s had a lot of trouble getting his shot to drop when on the road in these Eastern Conference Finals (5.0 PPG on 30.8% shooting in Boston compared to 15.3 PPG on 53.1% shooting in Cleveland), and that’s a trend that will need to reverse for the Cavs to come through in Game 7.

 

Jaylen BroWOWn

 

Jaylen Brown got it going early, dropping 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting through the first quarter of action on his way to 27 points (11-of-18 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), three rebounds, two 3-pointers, one assist and zero turnovers in 34 minutes. He’s arguably been Boston’s best player through the Eastern Conference Finals with averages of 20.8 points, 2.3 triples, 4.7 boards, 1.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.5 swats and just 1.3 turnovers per game on 46.9% shooting, and he was more aggressive than usual on Friday night with his 30.7 usage rate. He’s going to be crucial for Boston in Game 7.

 

Terry Rozier had his best game of the series, dropping in 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with six 3-pointers, three rebounds, seven assists, two steals and just one turnover over 40 minutes. He did appear to tweak his left ankle during the fourth quarter, but he played through it, and I’d be shocked to see the injury force him to miss Game 7. He hasn’t played very well at home in the Eastern Conference Finals so far, connecting on just 34.1% of his shots in Boston (compared to his 48.8% mark in Cleveland), so it’ll be interesting to see if he can buck that trend with the Celtics’ season on the line.

 

Al Horford was a complete no-show on the offensive end in the Game 6 loss, finishing with just six points on 2-of-8 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists, one block and two turnovers across 37 minutes. Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance both did a very nice job defensively against Horford, who has struggled in Cleveland this series, but he has played much better at home so it’s a good thing for the Celtics that Game 7 will be in Boston.

 

Jayson Tatum was very passive to begin the game, scoring just two points on 1-of-4 shooting through the first half of action, and while he did wind up with 15 points, one 3-pointer, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers in 39 minutes; it was a case of too little too late for the Celtics. Perhaps the quite first-half performance can be partly attributed to lack of experience from the 20-year-old rookie, but he hasn’t been afraid to shine on the big stage through the postseason thus far, so I’d expect a more aggressive Tatum at home on Sunday for Boston’s elimination game.

 

Injury Report

 

J.R. Smith tweaked his ankle late in Friday’s win, but he played through it, so this shouldn’t be an issue that forces him to the sidelines for Game 7 on Sunday.

 

Chris Paul (hamstring) has been ruled out for Saturday’s Game 6 in Oakland, and with this being a hamstring injury (in addition to the foot and calf issues), that could be it for CP3 and his Western Conference Finals run. James Harden will shift to the one with Paul out with Eric Gordon sliding into the starting five at the two, and there will be more minutes available for Gerald Green and Joe Johnson. This is obviously a huge blow for the Rockets’ chances of advancing to the Finals, but what we can expect is an insane stat line from The Beard.



A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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