LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers had 10 days off before their Eastern Conference Finals meeting with the Boston Celtics, thanks to a Cavs sweep in the previous round and a grueling seven-game battle opposite them in the bracket.
The difference in rest showed.
Regardless of what defenders head coach Brad Stevens and Co. threw at LeBron, he couldn’t be denied from getting to the rim at will or pulling up over the top.
Just ask Jae Crowder and Al Horford.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 18, 2017
And Gerald Green.
And Kelly Olynyk.
LeBron turned his back on Kelly Olynyk while he defended him 😂 pic.twitter.com/OTckrxwmWg
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 18, 2017
And even Isaiah Thomas.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 18, 2017
James shot 14-of-24 for 38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and just two turnovers in a 117-104 victory that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
“[James] made it clear—it was very clear—that he was trying to get to the rim on us no matter who was on him,” Stevens said.
The coach revealed that he’s considering the hard double-teaming of James in Game 2.
“Doubling is really scary against these guys, but it may be necessary,” Stevens said. “The conundrum is, do you double and risk giving up those easy step-in 3s and the rebounds? Or do you try to stay at home and do the best you can and make them make a tough shot? It’s all easier said than done, but we’ve got to figure out our best avenue quickly.”