LeBron James has rescued the Cavaliers from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and just pulled them out of a 2-0 hole against Boston.
Neither such comeback had ever been accomplished Youth Saquon Barkley Jersey , so James has stared down tough situations before.
Winning another championship now, leading this group of Cavaliers past a much mightier Golden State team, might even be a bigger challenge. Perhaps it’s simply too much to ask.
Except for the guy being asked.
James is playing at such an extraordinary level that anything is possible, including what would go down as one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
”No matter what the story line is going to be, no matter if we’re picked to win or not, let’s just go out and play ball,” James said. ”We’re going to have a great gameplan. We’re going to try to get better throughout the series, and we’ll see what happens.”
The Warriors are better, and few outside James’ native Ohio would bother to argue. Golden State is deeper, quicker, more potent offensively and much more reliable defensively. The Cavaliers only got one game off them in last year’s finals, and that Cleveland team Jonathan Allen Color Rush Jersey , with Kyrie Irving, was better than this year’s version.
But none of their weaknesses have stopped the Cavaliers from pulling out two Game 7s in this postseason, or from stomping on a 59-win Toronto team in four straight games. They find a way to play well enough to keep the games in striking distance so James can will the Cavs across the finish line, and that will be the strategy again starting Thursday at Oracle Arena.
As Stephen Curry noted, the Cavaliers are more than just James. Tristan Thompson rarely showed up anywhere but the gossip pages for much of the season, but has regained his role as a rugged rebounder and defender in the postseason. If All-Star Kevin Love is cleared from his concussion in time to play, Cleveland can surround James with dangerous perimeter shooters such as himself, Kyle Korver, George Hill and JR Smith, forcing the Warriors to play James 1-on-1 – and possibly without one of their top defenders in Andre Iguodala if he can’t return from his leg injury.
Golden State won two of the three finals meetings and is heavily favored to take this one. But the one Cleveland got is perhaps King James’ crowning achievement, when the Cavaliers overcame that 3-1 deficit to beat the 73-win Warriors in Oakland in Game 7.
Another title now wouldn’t be far behind. It might require four games of around 34 points, nine rebounds and nine assists – about what James is averaging in 18 games this postseason. It’s hard to expect that level of anyone Kenny Young Color Rush Jersey , but that’s what’s demanded of No. 23 in Cleveland.
James can do it.
Believe it or not, so can the Cavaliers.
The pick: Cavaliers in seven.
Three straight overtime finishes to start the postseason? No problem.
That’s what the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals were saying after Tuesday night’s double- OT game, one that finally ended when the puck pinballed around the front of the net, hitting Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski and the Capitals’ Lars Eller before squirting past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
”Real ugly” was how Eller put it afterward.
But it was a win, one that Washington badly needed after losing two straight overtime games at home. The Capitals needed 89 minutes to win Game 3, the longest game in Blue Jackets history and one played in front of the largest hockey crowd ever at Nationwide Arena.
Of the first 26 games of the NHL playoffs, there have been four overtime games in all, with three of them in this series (Vegas and Los Angeles also had a double OT game during the Golden Knights‘ sweep). It is the sixth time in playoff history that the first three games of a series went to OT.
Care to make it four?
The two teams go at it again on Thursday night (7:30 p.m. EDT, USA) with Columbus looking to take a 3-1 lead. Despite the extra hockey and nail-biting drama, nobody is feeling the burn. At least not that they’re saying.
”I didn’t see any guys dying out there,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. ”I think we’re in really good condition for this time of year. I don’t think any guys worried about that.”
Washington coach Barry Trotz said his team is accustomed to managing overtime games and then coming back. It all builds character, he said.
”The playoffs are a test of will P.J. Hall Color Rush Jersey , even if it’s not overtime,” he said. ”What I think overtime makes you do is concentrate when you’re tired. You have to be in that moment. You can’t cut that corners, you can’t do that fly-by when you’re really tired, you can’t cheat because those are the times the puck ends up in the back of your net.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella said he thinks his guys are fine.
”I’ll tell you right now, if we’re fatigued three games in, holy crap,” he said. ”We’re just starting. It was a long game last night and we’ve had some overtime games, but that’s all part of it. You just can’t be tired. I don’t even think you can start talking about fatigue until you’re in a couple of rounds from now.”
After recording 20 points in the first two games against the Maple Leafs, the Boston line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron was held scoreless in Game 3. The Bruins are counting on their production to return for Game 4 in Toronto on Thursday night.
”I thought our top line was fine for the most part, they just didn’t finish,” coach Bruce Cassidy said after the 4-2 loss that cut Boston’s lead in the series to 2-1. ”They (the Maple Leafs) were determined to keep them off the score sheet Authentic Josh Allen Jersey , and they did.”
While the Leafs had bad luck in the first two games – though that wasn’t their only problem, as the combined 12-4 score could attest – in Game 3 it was Pastrnak who hit the post on one shot and then Toronto’s Frederik Andersen made great saves on two others, first with his glove and then with his stick.
After two games, four Bruins led the NHL in postseason scoring – Pastrnak (4 goals, 5 assists), Marchand (1, 5), Bergeron (0, 5), plus defenseman Torey Krug (0, 5). Pastrnak’s nine points still led the league heading into Wednesday night’s games.
ABOUT THAT CALL
Cassidy took issue with a penalty call he says NHL officials made on a hunch in a 4-2 loss to Toronto in Game 3.
Bruins forward Riley Nash was handed a delay of game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass on Monday. But the puck touched the glass before entering the crowd, which would negate the minor penalty Dorian O'Daniel Color Rush Jersey , and officials missed it. Nash was sent to the box at 16:58 of the first period.
Seven seconds later, James van Riemsdyk scored to put Toronto ahead 1-0. It was the first time in the series the Leafs scored first.
Cassidy, whose team leads the series 2-1, spoke to the officials at the beginning of the second period and wanted to know who of the four (two referees, two linesmen) decided to give Nash the two-minute penalty.
”My question was: who made the call? There’s no call immediately,” he said. ”When a referee makes a call you kind of live with it because it’s decisive. So now they get together and I assume they want to make the right call, that’s the idea, but to me they got together and clearly they guessed because it hit the glass and we saw that. I think you’re kind of innocent until proven guilty.”
Game 4 is Thursday at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. EDT, NBCSN).
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen in Boston contributed to this report.