Irving kept Cleveland within striking distance while James was out by scoring 12 points over the final 5:11 of the second quarter.
But it all evaporated. The Celtics started Game 4 in the driver's seat but lifted by Irving's 42-points, and James' 34-points, the 3rd and 4th quarters belonged exclusively to the Cavs.
The defending National Basketball Association champions can wrap up their third straight conference title - and a "three-match" against the Warriors - with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston. "But nobody's going to feel sorry for me". But then he added this: "OK, maybe a slight preference for Cleveland". It will only be fourth time ever in the four major American sports leagues the same two teams have played in three consecutive championship series. Durant signed a two-year, $54.3 million contract with the Warriors last offseason.
And they're doing this without their head coach.
Kerr is still involved, albeit donning sweatpants. But in the Western Conference Finals, the duo found a seemingly flawless balance that makes them look as terrifying as everyone anticipated the combination could be going into the Finals. The Conference Finals were a reality check that proves the overachieving Celtics are still nowhere near the super teams of the National Basketball Association. The Cleveland Cavaliers are averaging 116.8 points on 50.7 percent shooting and allowing 103.2 points on 45 percent shooting.
The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest their starters in advance of the playoffs.
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"I think I missed one in Boston before", he said. "We go out and just try to be as great as we can be every night. Now we have to keep our feet on the ground and hope for the best". "So we've got to be a lot better, for sure". "So however you want to take that, that's how the season's been".
Can LeBron and the Cavs do it again?The Canadiens won the 1956 finale in five games.
Thomas joked that he has informed the team's medical staff and the specialist that he visited with earlier this week that the goal is to come back at an "MVP level" that he often displayed while earning All-NBA second-team honors this season.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue chuckled before the game when he was asked if he planned to say anything to James following his sub-standard performance in Game 3.
Can the Cavs do it again? Just six other players have made it to at least that many in a row, and they all were part of the Celtics' dynasty, which spanned the 1950s into the 1960s. After torching the Celtics for 35, James now sits at 5,995 postseason career points.
"It doesn't matter to me", James said. "As of tonight, I'll get started".
As James' detractors - and Jordan truthers - are wont to do, there will be an attempt to discredit this feat.
A Warriors' team bent on revenge stands in his way.