Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James playing better than man who's just 'feeling pretty good'
CLEVELAND -- Despite being in the midst of his 12th straight trip to the NBA Playoffs and working toward his seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James says he is “feeling pretty good,” and his productivity is undeniable.
Over the Cavaliers’ first six games of the postseason, all victories, James is averaging 34.2 points, the second-best per-game average of his career. James has four double-doubles, three of points and rebounds and one of points and assists, as well as a triple-double to his credit during the first two rounds.
“I’ve just been feeling pretty good,” James said following the Cavaliers’ 125-103 Game 2 win over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals Wednesday night.
“My teammates do a good job of putting me in position, my coaching staff does a great job of putting me in position to be successful. I put in a lot of work on my craft and I live with the results. I’m just blessed. I was able to make a few plays to help us win another game.”
Needing 25 points to pass Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second place on the NBA’s postseason scoring list, James scored 27 in the first 27-plus minutes of Game 2 and finished with a game-high 39 in the victory.
On his way to the 39 points, James was remarkably efficient, hitting 10 of his 14 looks at the basket, including a four-for-six effort from three-point range and 15-of-21 showing from the free-throw line. Additionally, James pulled down six rebounds, handed out four assists, stole three passes and blocked two shots in 37 minutes.
“I’m a guy who just tries to play the game the right way,” James said. “If I drive and another guy comes to me, then I know the numbers game. That means we’ve got a four-on-three advantage. If I drive, get past my guy and no one comes, I try to lay it up or dunk it or whatever I’ve been blessed with at that point in time.”
During the first quarter of Game 2, James was patient on the offensive end, letting his teammates get involved in the act, but after scoring just four points in the opening period, he found his shooting rhythm midway through the second quarter.
Out of a timeout, James hustled toward the hoop and got a layup attempt to fall. Then, after splitting four free throws, James buried a pull-up three-pointer from the right wing. On the next trip down the floor, James took advantage of the space given up by Raptors center Serge Ibaka and knocked down his second straight triple, which put the Cavaliers up by 14, 49-35, with 7:28 to play in the half.
James tied Abdul-Jabbar when he buried a 27-foot three-point shot from the left wing with 8:57 to play in the third quarter. Then, on the Cavaliers’ next trip down the floor, James took sole possession of second place when he stepped behind the three-point line and knocked down his fourth triple of the game.
“I enjoy the game all the time,” James said. “You have to enjoy it. Obviously, it’s stressful. The postseason’s always stressful, but for me, I never get too high, never get too low on a win or loss. It is what it is.
“You move onto the next one, see how you can be better, but when you’re playing good ball like right now with 28 assists on 41 field goals, I think we had 26 on 39 in Game 1, so that lets me know we’re playing the right way. We’re moving the ball from side to side. Guys are feeling their rhythm. No matter who gets the shot, we just want to get a great look.”