LeBron James needs help.
As the Cleveland Cavaliers held their media availability on Thursday in preparation for their Game 3 matchup on Saturday versus the Boston Celtics, Tristan Thompson stressed the need for Cleveland's supporting cast to step up and aid the four-time MVP:
#Cavs Tristan Thompson when asked if it's concerning to have LeBron James score 40-plus points and still lose: "I've never seen a game scored in the 40s unless it's in the Big Ten with like Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State. So other guys have to contribute"— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) May 17, 2018
James posted a 40-point triple-double in the Cavaliers' 107-94 loss to the Celtics in Game 2, becoming just the second player in NBA history to do so in the postseason. Despite his efforts, the Cavaliers still lost. Which means that a historic performance and efficient shooting (16-of-29 from the field, 5-of-11 from three-point range) won't be enough for the Cavaliers to win games unless their role players are willing to step up.
For example, Cleveland's quartet of trade deadline acquisitions (George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson) posted a combined five points on 2-of-7 shooting in 55 minutes of playing time. Their combined plus/minus rating was a -15 rating.
James temporarily exited the game during the second quarter only to return before the end of the first half as a precautionary measure due to the NBA's concussion protocol. After evaluation, it was ruled that the four-time MVP had a strained neck. With all of that being said, James is good to go for Game 3, via the Associated Press:
"I think I'll be fine. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. You go out and when you lay everything on the line, at the end of the day, you can live with that," he said. "They did what they had to do, and that was protect home, and now it's our time to try to do that, as well."
It was clear that after James temporarily exited that the 33-year-old veteran lacked the same aggression that he had early on in Game 2. After starting out the first quarter with a bang with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, James scored just 21 more points during the last three quarters on 8-of-16 from the field.
While Kevin Love (22 points on 9-of-18 from the field) was the perfect supporting player for LeBron in Game 2, Cleveland's other starters combined for just 5-of-17 shooting from the field for a combined 11 points.
Despite all of their struggles and lack of production from LeBron's supporting cast, the Cavaliers enter Game 3 as 6.5-point favorites at Quicken Loans Arena, where they're 6-0 overall during this year's postseason.
Tipoff is set for 8:30 PM and will take place on Saturday night.
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