Rookie Jayson Tatum had 24 points and Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83 on Wednesday night and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals.
But James looked at times as if he were feeling the effects of the heavy load he has carried for the Cavs in these playoffs, coughing up six of Cleveland's 15 turnovers, including four in the second half. In five games in the conference finals, they seemed to be failing to match or better their postseason averages, as they are scoring just 99.8 points on 42.4 percent shooting from the field against Cleveland.
Except, of course, if there's a Game 7 on Sunday in Boston. May 25 at Quicken Loans Arena, Tyronn Lue is confident James will be rejuvenated and ready to go.
James had some bad turnovers (in further demonstration of incredible recall of his games, he would only consider three of those as being "careless").
And with the series tied 2-2, Cleveland remained the favorite (-190). Boston has a healthy amount of respect for the superstar standing in its way, even as James insists his streak of playing in the Finals seven consecutive times doesn't mean much to him. He is running at 40.6 minutes per game with 33.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 8.8 assists. But James also committed six more turnovers with Cavaliers coach Ty Lue allowing that he thought his star looked exhausted in the fourth quarter.
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"At one point we had two opportunities to cut it to single digits and missed some really good looks, two three-pointers. I can't say it enough: We're one win away from going to the [NBA] Finals, especially after everything we've been through".
When told about Tatum being left off one of the first-team ballots, Boston head coach Brad Stevens couldn't understand it and believed there could only be one explanation.
- With 20 more points, Tatum goes by Elgin Baylor (331 points) and moves into No. 3 all-time.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have played in the NBA Finals for the last three years. Nance took exception to Morris standing over him after falling while battling for a loose ball.
Jayson Tatum is only 20 years old, and playing in his first year in the National Basketball Association, but Paul Pierce already sees his potential to become one of the greatest players to wear a Celtics jersey.
"This is the first series I've been a part of where both teams play completely different on the road", Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson said.