Cavs, LeBron face elimination Friday night in Game 6

James is the NBA’s all-time greatest scorer in elimination games

Daryl Ruiter
May 25, 2018 - 12:27 pm

© Greg M. Cooper/Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – For the second time this postseason, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers face elimination.

Win, or go home.

For whatever reason, James and the Cavs seem to thrive when their backs against the wall. Been there, done that. 

“I don’t enjoy being in the position where it’s like you lose and go home,” James said Friday morning, “but [I] just try and extend the series as long as I can and just try to put myself and my team in position to be able to continue to play. I haven’t always been successful obviously, haven’t won every elimination game, but I’ve had some really good games, and I’ve had some sub-par games as well.”

James is the all-time leading scorer in NBA history when facing elimination giving Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue reason for optimism that they can bounce back and return to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.

"If I had to pick one guy and choose one guy to prevail, it would be LeBron," Lue said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. "I know he'll be great come [Friday night]."

James, who has averaged 33.5 points, 10.8 rebunds and 7.3 assists in 21 playoff games when facing elimination, dropped 45 in Game 7 against Indiana last month. He has scored at least 40 points 4 times in 7 elimination games with the Cavs.

In 2012, James faced a similar situation against the Celtics, down 3-2, but the game was in Boston.

He scored 45. Miami won in 7. The Heat went on to win the NBA Finals. 

But don't look for him to lean on that epic performance Friday night.

“What I remember from that game is we were able to extend that series back to Miami and keep our season going," James said. "I’ve drawn nothing from that.”

The Celtics have taken a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals thanks to physical defense, balanced offense and teamwork. But the Cavs have LeBron, who continues to carry them during these playoffs and they’ll need another virtuoso from the 4-time NBA MVP Friday night to force another Game 7.

The key for the Cavs won't be James, it'll be the supporting cast. Cleveland is 8-1 this postseason when they have 4 or more players score in double figures. 

With the help for James being consistently inconsistent this series, what has him feeling good about Game 6?

“I love the way we defended and for the most part if you take away Game 1 and the second half of Game 2, we’ve been defending at a high clip,” James said. “We’ve been doing it throughout the playoffs though and it’s definitely given us an opportunity to be in some games.”

 While the focus is on the Cavs' roller coaster ride of a season about to come to a screeching and shocking halt, James' approach remains unchanged.

“We just want to be as great as we can be and that’s all you can ask for,” James said.