CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James continues to amaze with his performances during the NBA Playoffs, and even his teammates are in awe of the accomplishments on the court.
In fact, when James passed Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan for the most points scored in NBA Playoffs history Thursday night, they were the ones celebrating the accomplishment, including forward Kevin Love throwing up his arms in jubilant celebration as the record-breaking three-pointer swished.
“I wouldn't share a podium with him because I think tonight is a night where he deserves to be on his own,” Love said. “He's been so special for us. We know what he brings to this game as a whole, brings to this league, our organization.
“Every night, he brings it for us, sets the tone, and it's no different. There are so many different milestones and accolades that have come his way, and me being here for -- this is my third year now, having seen him accomplish so much is truly special.”
In the 135-102 closeout win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden, James scored a game-high 35 points on 13-of-18 shooting, including a four-for-seven showing from three-point range.
“I mentioned not taking things for granted,” Love said. “Tonight is one of those nights. It was truly special to be a part of, and we knew it, too. When we drew up the play in the timeout in the third quarter and he came out and he was shooting the ball so well, went in, we're celebrating it for him. It was big. Special.”
Because of James and his teammates, the Cavaliers are bound for the NBA Finals for the third straight season.
By winning the Eastern Conference Championship with the win over the Celtics in Boston, the Cavaliers earned the right to face the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors for the NBA title for third straight season.
The rubber match between the Cavaliers and Warriors marks the first time in NBA history that the same two teams have matched up against each other in The Finals in three consecutive seasons.
“As you can see in our play, especially in his play, he's been the driving force this whole, entire playoff run,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said. “And all of us have just really helped him along the way with being just the teammates that we're supposed to be, especially when a guy is playing unbelievable like that.”
Inspired by James’ efforts, Irving has shaken off the struggles in the early rounds of the postseason to become an offensive leader and later, set a single-game career high with 42 points in a Game 4 win over the Celtics.
Then, by making nine of his 15 looks at the basket, including four triples, Irving scored 24 points and assisted on seven other Cavaliers hoops in the closeout win.
“The special ones figure it out, and I'm just eternally grateful to have a guy like that as well as K-Love, Tristan, J.R., all my teammates, but when you look at how this team is run and who are the driving forces behind it, it has to be myself and Bron,” Irving said.
“We understand that. It falls on our shoulders as well as everyone else, but we have to carry it. I accepted that. He knows I'm preparing every, single day, and I'm dedicating myself every, single day to this game and I'm leaving it out there, and I expect the same from him.”