CLEVELAND -- By scoring a postseason-low 11 points in a 111-108 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday night, Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James has been the subject of much sports talk since.
But the Cavaliers refuse to put the blame on one player, especially James, who led the team to 10 straight wins to start the postseason.
“No blame,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We're all to blame. We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well.”
James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including an 0-for-4 showing from three-point range, in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Celtics, their only setback in 11 outings during the first three rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs and first since Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
In addition to making just four of his 13 looks and three of his six attempts from the free-throw line, James pulled down only six rebounds and handed out six assists. Normally fundamentally sound, James committed six turnovers, stole only one pass and blocked just one shot.
“I just think that Kevin and Kyrie had such a great start,” Lue said. “They were playing well. We went to those guys. He never really got in a rhythm offensively.
“Defensively in that first half, I told them at halftime that we could be better, more physical, not into their bodies [enough], not tough enough defensively. And then, you saw in the second half, they were able to get some open shots because of that.”
In the Cavaliers’ first 10 playoff games, James averaged 34.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.5 blocks and 2.3 steals over 41.4 minutes of play. In leading the Cavaliers to 10 straight wins this postseason and an NBA record-tying 13 overall dating back to Game 5 of last year's Finals, James shot 56.9 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from three-point range.
In Game 1 at the Celtics, James led the way with 38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals over 42 minutes. James finished with a plus-16 rating, the second-best margin of the game.
It was James’ seventh straight playoff game with at least 30 points. The last time that was accomplished was by Shaquille O’Neal during the 2002-2003 season.
As he did in Game 1, James led the Cavaliers in Game 2, as he scored a game-high 30 points with a 12-of-18 shooting performance. James buried four of his six looks from three-point range and went eight for 12 inside the arc.
Additionally, James pulled down four rebounds, handed out seven assists, stole four passes and blocked three shots over 33 minutes. James was a plus-45 in the lopsided victory.
“He's in good spirits,” Lue said.
“A game like that just happens. You move on and hopefully be better the next game. It's not something we're going to hang our head on. But we definitely understand that this [Boston] team is not going to quit. They're going to fight, they're going to compete. We've got to bring the physicality and the defensive mindset to start the game.”