Cavs try to ease LeBron James' load and stop Celtics
WASHINGTON, United States – The Cleveland Cavaliers can't continue to let LeBron James carry the load as they seek to climb out of an 0-2 hole against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference finals, Cavs big man Tristan Thompson said.
"Other guys have to contribute and step up," Thompson said as the Cavs prepare to host Game 3 of the best-of-7 series on Saturday, May 19 (Sunday, May 20, in Manila).
(LOOK: 2018 NBA conference finals schedule, Philippine time)
"We all have to do it collectively. Of course, it's a huge luxury having LeBron on our team. At the same time, we have to be ready to play and we have to do our job."
Teammate JR Smith said the Cavs are forcing James to play "hero ball."
Even a 42-point triple-double by James, a 4-time NBA Most Valuable Player, wasn't enough in a Game 2 defeat in Boston.
The Celtics rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to win 107-94.
Against a Boston defensive side ranked number one in the regular season, the Cavaliers connected on just 36 percent of their shots from the field – and only 15 percent from 3-point range – in Game 1. They shot 46 percent in Game 2, but still didn't crack 100 points for the game.
"I think they just do a really good job of contesting shots," Cleveland's Kevin Love said. "They've been physical the entire playoffs. We just have to bring it at home and make sure we come out and are in attack mode."
Love said the Cavaliers had targeted improved offensive flow in the practices leading up to Game 3.
"There have been times throughout this run so far, especially in the second half, where we've either thrown the ball into Bron or myself and we've kind of stopped," he said. "We're finding ways to just get the ball to the next side.
"If it's swung, don't go back to the same side, kind of cross-grain it, get it to the next man, and kind of make those swing-passes because you're seeing that a lot. Boston is doing it a lot, so we need to follow suit and do that as well, get better shots."
The Cavaliers were fine-tuning their approach with a sense of calm, despite the series deficit.
The Cavs have twice won a playoff series after trailing 0-2 – in the 2007 Eastern finals against Detroit and, spectacularly, in the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, when they trailed both 0-2 and 1-3 in the series.
"We know what it takes," Lue said. "We've got to take care of business on our home floor. We're ready to do that." – Rappler.com