LeBron’s 44 leads Cavs to 111-102 win in Game 4

James' spectacular playoff run rolls on, series tied 2-2

Daryl Ruiter
May 21, 2018 - 11:21 pm
Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) high-fives center Tristan Thompson (13) in front of Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the third quarter in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James wasn’t going back to Boston down 3-1.

James continues to dominate the Eastern Conference playoffs and it took another spectacular effort from him Monday night to even the East Finals – 44 points to be exact – to lead the Cavs to a 111-102 victory at Quicken Loans Arena.

In 15 playoff games, James is averaging 33 points, 9.4 assists, 9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. It marked the sixth time James scored 40 this postseason and the 25th time of his playoff career. He’s added 3 triple-doubles and won a pair of games with buzzer beaters too.

“You can't force me to do something I don't want to do or I don't have too much of a weakness,” James said. “I work on every aspect of my game. But more importantly, my teammates are putting me in position and wanting me to be in attack mode and trusting me to put our guys in position to be successful.”

Kyle Korver added 14 points off the bench while George Hill and Tristan Thompson scored 13. Thompson added 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the playoffs as the Cavs beat Boston on the glass 47-37 and 50-38 in the paint.

Korver’s hustle, especially defensively diving for loose balls, rebounding, boxing out and even blocking shots, was instrumental in the victory.

"I've loved Kyle ever since we made the trade to get him here" James said. "I don't remember Kyle falling too much like that. I've got to keep his body as fresh as possible. But listen, he's doing whatever it takes to try to help us win, with the blocks, with the strips. Obviously his shot making is very key for our team as well, but it's just the intangibles he's doing for us defensively."

Kevin Love had a tough night picking up his fifth foul midway through the third quarter. He was 3-12 from the field with 6 turnovers. He scored 9 points but he pulled down 11 rebounds.

“It was just tough to get anything going tonight,” Love said. “But I thought a lot of guys stepped up. Obviously ‘Bron was huge tonight, but Tristan Thompson was huge. A lot of guys hit big shots. Kyle Korver, again, G-Hill was big for us. All across the board guys stepped up.”

All 5 Celtics starters hit double figures in scoring led by 25 from Jaylen Brown. Jayson Tatum scored 17 and Terry Rozier 16 with 11 assists.

"It's the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn't get better than that," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said following the loss. "Ultimately, anybody that didn't think this was going to be tough, I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it's a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again."

The Cavs, who have now won their last 7 home playoff games, started strong early for the second straight game, and once again it was fueled by their defense.

In the opening quarter Love fired an 85-foot bomb to James, who laid it in. Thompson, Korver and George Hill blocked a shot, all 8 players that played recorded a rebound and scored, the Celtics blew a pair of dunks and shot just 7-26 in the opening quarter that saw the Cavs lead 34-18.

In all, the Cavs blocked 8 shots Monday night – Korver had 3 of them, Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. 2 each.

"Tristan, when he is rebounding the basketball, big blocks, finishing at the rim, those are big plays for us. Larry, the same thing -- verticality, blocked shots, loose balls, dunking around the rim," Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. "Those are huge, especially at home, getting the crowd into it. So, they're both a pretty big part of what we're doing."

After starting 1-7 from 3 in the opening quarter, the Celtics used the deep ball to cut into what was once a 19-point advantage for the Cavs in the second. They hit 6 of 10 from deep in the quarter to climb within 9 before Cleveland pushed the lead back to 15 at 68-53.

James had 22 at the break hitting 8 of 11 from the field.

Cleveland overcame a sloppy third quarter that saw them turn it over 6 times but a 7-2 run to end the quarter gave them an 89-76 lead with 12 minutes remaining.

The Cavs committed 19 turnovers that cost them 19 points, something they can't repeat Wednesday night in Boston.

"Taking care of the basketball is the most important [thing], especially on the road," Lue said. "You don't want to turn the ball over when you get to Boston because they really thrive off that -- dunks, threes, layups."

Both teams held serve at home and it's James and the Cavs who will have to steal one on the road to move on. 

"We know it's going to be a hostile environment," James said. "We know their fans are going to be very energetic. But we have to just have our same mindset we had when we came home for these two games. If our minds are there, we put ourselves in a position to be victorious."