May 3, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game two of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The remarkable workload that LeBron James has endured over the last seven seasons has been unlike any other in NBA history and the greatest player on the planet remains as hungry as ever to continue winning titles.
James, who entered the league out of high school in 2003, has long since secured his status as a surefire Hall of Famer but the Cleveland Cavaliers forward still shifts into a higher gear come playoff time.
“It’s the best part of the year. This is, they say, where legends are made,” James, a three-time NBA champion, said on Friday in Toronto where his Cavs beat the Raptors 115-94 for a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final.
“I am just trying to put myself in a position where I can be, I guess, remembered when I am done playing.”
James had a team-high 35 points, leaving him 176 points shy of surpassing Michael Jordan as the all-time playoff scoring leader, as Cleveland improved to 7-0 in the 2017 postseason.
With the victory, the 32-year-old James also moved five wins away from reaching his seventh straight NBA Finals dating back to his time with the Miami Heat from 2010-2014.
His current streak of NBA Finals appearances is already a total unmatched since the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1960s.
Those Celtics, however, did not have to log the same mileage as James since the bulk of their reign came during a period when the NBA had fewer than 10 teams, meaning fewer playoff rounds.
While a dominant James has made Cleveland’s run in the playoffs look easy, he credits past postseason failures for preparing him.
James reached his first NBA Finals in 2007 as a 22-year-old with the Cavs and after being swept by a veteran San Antonio Spurs team declared that he had to be “10 times better.”
He eventually left for Miami, saying he needed to learn how to win, and along with a cast of All-Stars won two NBA titles in four seasons before returning to Cleveland.
“At 22 I wasn’t mentally ready for this. You dream about it, you want it but you don’t have the experience to actually know,” said James, whose Cavaliers can wrap up the series on Sunday in Toronto.
“Mentally I had never been a part of it so I didn’t know exactly how much commitment and how much sacrifice that you got to make not only for yourself but for your team.
“But without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am today.” — By Frank Pingue | TORONTO
(Editing by Larry Fine)
NBA: Cavs target George to challenge Warriors dominance
FILE PHOTO: Apr 29, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (13) celebrates after scoring against the Toronto Raptors during the second half in game six of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters
Fresh off their NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly trying to bring Paul George over from the Indiana Pacers to add firepower and defense to the Eastern Conference champs.
George, a 27-year-old four-time All-Star, is a highly sought after target in the NBA this offseason and combining him with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving could produce a viable challenger to the dominant Warriors next season.
ESPN reported Monday on a possible three-way deal that would see the Cavs send forward Kevin Love to the Denver Nuggets, the Nuggets send several young players to the Pacers, and George forming a new Big Three in Cleveland with James and Irving.
“This blockbuster trade from the Cavaliers standpoint is all determined by what the Golden State Warriors did in the NBA Finals,” ESPN pundit Chris Haynes said on Monday.
Earlier this month the Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in five games to claim their second championship over Cleveland in three years.
“The roster as structured right now, (the Cavs) don’t feel like they have the talent and depth to contend with the Warriors,” he added.
The sticking point in the deal is that the Nuggets are not yet willing to part with either of their two best players – 20-year-old guard Jamal Murray and Serbian big man Nikola Jokić – but an agreement could still be reached, Haynes said.
A team that would suffer if George went to Cleveland is the Los Angeles Lakers, who were hoping to nab George to serve as a leader in their locker room, which is budding with young talent.
George, who can become a free agent after next season, had previously expressed interest in returning to LA, where he is originally from, but may not be quick to change teams again if the Cavs move takes place and proves successful.
“If the Cleveland Cavaliers win a title and dethrone the Warriors, Paul George really has to consider his initial basis of trying to get to LA,” Haynes said.
“This is going to be a nightmare for the Lakers and could change the entire look of free agency next season.”
Whether Cleveland is successful in bringing in George or not, the team will also pursue other big names around the Association this offseason including sharp-shooting forward Carmelo Anthony, who may be freed from his New York Knicks deal.
“If things work out in the Cavaliers favor, they will have the firepower necessary to feel like they can contend with the Golden State Warriors,” Haynes said. — By Rory Carroll
(Editing by Larry Fine)
Warriors’ Durant named Most Valuable Player of NBA Finals
Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors hoping to win an elusive title and on Monday he not only reached his goal but was also named the unanimous Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals.
Durant, in his first season with the Warriors, led the way in a 4-1 series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to capture his maiden NBA title and the team’s second in three seasons.
The 28-year-old American averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the best-of-seven Finals, which the Warriors wrapped up in five games.
To win his first NBA title, Durant had to overcome Cavaliers forward LeBron James, whose former Miami Heat team defeated Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals.
“He’s the only person that I was looking at since 2012,” Durant said after the game. “I knew it was going to be a battle I just tried to challenge him … you can’t stop the guy. But we battled.
“I told him we’re tied up now and we’re going to try to do this thing again but I’m going to celebrate this one tonight.” — By Rory Carroll | OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
(Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Frank Pingue)
Warriors beat Cavaliers to clinch NBA title
Jun 12, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter in game five of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 on Monday to win their second NBA championship in three seasons and cap a near-perfect run through the playoffs.
The Warriors, who beat Cleveland in the 2015 Finals only to lose to them last year after squandering a 3-1 series lead, went a record-setting 15-1 in the playoffs, their only loss coming in Game Four of the best-of-seven championship.
Kevin Durant led the way for the Warriors with 39 points but it took a team effort for the Warriors to overcome a determined Cavaliers’ squad, including contributions from 33-year-old veteran Andre Iguodala and 21-year-old Patrick McCaw.
LeBron James had a game-high 41 points but defensive breakdowns by Cleveland led to easy baskets late in the game for the Warriors, igniting a deafening crowd.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Frank Pingue)