JR Smith: LeBron James Must 'Play Confident' in Game 4

"Not just in the second half", James said. Reports have come out in the last few days that said the Celtics were going to pursue Hayward in free agency. "But, at the end of the day, a win is a win and you have to beat whoever is out there against you".

The series resumes Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena before returning to Boston on Thursday for a Game 5 that didn't appear necessary until the Celtics stormed back from 21 down and won when Avery Bradley's 3-pointer danced an Irish jig on the rim before falling with 0.01 seconds left.

"I had a tough game, period", he said. “A weird-feeling game.”.

"That's no excuse. They played well, but we've just got to play better, be more physical". "They scrapped. They competed". "If we're able to do that and guard the 3, I like our chances".

"He saw Bron went out and he wanted to put the team on his shoulders", Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. LeBron mentioned he and his team's focus coming into this matchup as correcting mistakes from the previous outing. "Not just in the second half".

The Cavs know, though, that the quickest way to get some rest is to wrap things up. Indeed, Cleveland missed 15-of-17 long-range shots in the second half after nailing 14-of-22 in the first and second quarters.

This is not a new concern for Cleveland. The former is more likely, and Game 4 should give us a better grasp on where both teams stand.

After the Celtics finished the series in Game 6, that performance remained with LeBron, and was brought up again when he struggled in a 2011 Finals loss to Dallas. Second-half defense has been particularly concerning all season.

Boston, missing the injured Isaiah Thomas, had four players in double figures, with Avery Bradley scoring a leading 19 points. Let us regroup and all the narrative and everything that was going on, let's regroup and let's get back to playing desperate basketball, which they did tonight. "You can't do that against anybody".

“No blame. Were all to blame, ” Lue said. It was one of the greatest singular performances in playoff history, as LeBron was the only Cavs player to score in the last 12:49 of the game. "We were hit with some adversity with Isaiah being down but our group responded".

Cleveland's shot selection was not to Lue's liking either.

Some NBA reporters show up for every game of the regular season and playoffs. However, there are times when that approach can become the detriment to their offense. "But I thought (the Celtics) played a big part of that". I think we're prepared for pretty much anything.

The early three-point barrage coincided with a larger issue-the importance of James. But he played well when it mattered down the stretch, finishing with 34 points. He wasn't attacking as often and seemed to be deferring to teammates. It wasnt his ordinary game.

"He's the best player in the world", Stevens added. It allowed them to stay a bit more at home on shooters and contest shots.

Game 4 is Tuesday night in Cleveland. The team would rather not find out more about that concern. The decision made sense; James has certainly earned the league's longest leash with his Hall of Fame exploits, and Lue's got to trust his top gun not to put himself and the team that so desperately needs him in unsafe positions by playing too aggressively and courting that bang-bang call. "Play comfortable. Play confident". It's the Eastern Conference finals. Teammates are hopeful that Thomas will be with them in Boston when the series shifts back to TD Garden later this week.

  • Julie Sanders