A night after downplaying the importance of Wednesday's game in Boston, LeBron James put on another one of his virtuoso performances at the Garden.
James scored 36 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to help lead the Cavaliers to a 114-91 trouncing of the Celtics. The win puts the Wine and Gold essentially two games ahead of Boston in the Eastern Conference standings with four games remaining in the NBA's regular season.
One of the keys to the game was the Cavs' quick start to the second quarter, scoring 22 of the first 26 points as they outscored Boston, 38-22. "First of all, we got stops," LeBron said to ESPN afterwards. "That enabled us to push the tempo. It allowed us to get out and I got into transition for a couple of easy baskets."
Make no mistake, James played like an MVP in Boston. But he did have help. All five Cavs starters were in double figures as Kyrie Irving scored 19 points and Kevin Love added 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Suddenly the Cavs have won four straight as they look like a team on the upswing at the right time. "We've been playing some good ball here in April. I mean it's just a couple of games but we kept it going tonight," said LeBron. "We want to continue what we did out there. We’re not where we want to be but we’re heading in the right direction."
It's funny now to read a lot of the stories from Boston leading up to the game, claiming LeBron had given the Celtics 'whiteboard material' with his quote Tuesday night when asked if he was gearing up for a showdown against the Celtics,“They’ve been playing some great ball, but like I’ve said, I’m not one to get caught up in regular-season big games and [all] of that. I’m sorry. I’ve been to six straight Finals, man. I’m the last person to ask about a regular-season game, dude. I’m sorry."
On the Cavs whiteboard after Wednesday's win per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com: 'Good Win'
So I think we can hold off on any passing of any torch as to who's the best team in the East. As my friend and colleague Jim Donovan said tonight, "Congratulations Celtics on a nice, nice season. But you're at least a year away."
Or as Boston's Isaiah Thomas said to reporters: "They were on a different level than us tonight. They played harder than us in every aspect of the game. … It's very disappointing. We laid an egg tonight. There's no way around that."