CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James continues to inspire and amaze his teammates, especially during the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
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.
“His ability to bounce back the next day, everybody doesn’t get to see this,” shooting guard Iman Shumpert said. “The next day, for him to come in and be the first one there, everybody’s getting treatment and all this stuff, and then, he pops out of the hyperbaric chamber and nobody knew he was there.”
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.
“He does just a tremendous job of just taking care of his body,” Shumpert said. “He takes care of his body.
“He comes out, he plays 40 minutes, plays 48 minutes, double overtime, triple overtime, whatever, and the next day, we walk into a place and he’s dunking after each possession. When you’ve got a guy like that, that headlines your team, it’s hard for other guys to take a day off, so I think he does a great job of pushing us.”
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.
“He’s just so efficient, but almost at an even higher level,” Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love said. “(Game 2) was the most points he’s scored while playing less than 40 minutes in a playoff game, so it just continues impress and continues to get better. You know, he’s huge for us.”