BOSTON — The Cleveland Cavaliers had no longer been gambling awesome basketball because the N.B.A. All-Star spoil. Teammates have been squabbling on the bench. Their rebounding turned into atrocious. Their defense? Pass the Pepto. The complete package deal become enough to create a few difficulty some of the basketball-watching intelligentsia that the Cavaliers is probably in a few hassle.
And then they showed up here to play the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, much less than two weeks from the begin of the postseason, and reminded absolutely everyone that they’re correct at their selected area. Kyrie Irving said he ought to experience on the morning shootaround that his teammates had been “locked in.” No kidding.
LeBron James brushed aside the inspiration that the Cavaliers’ 114-91 victory was anything aside from a solid attempt because the group rounds into playoff form. But the Cavaliers and the Celtics came into the sport tied atop the Eastern Conference standings with equal facts. They have history between them, and they might see every different once more within the convention finals several weeks from now.
So the game meant something, no matter how plenty James tried to paint it as enterprise as regular. It supposed that the Cavaliers (fifty one-27), after such a lot of u.S.And downs this season, are still fearsome, a hazard to repeat as N.B.A. Champions. It supposed that that they had placed themselves a sport in advance of Boston inside the race for the pinnacle seed in the East. And it supposed that the Celtics nonetheless have homework earlier than the playoffs, specially if they meet up with James once more and he decides that he wants to pick-and-roll smaller defenders to smithereens.
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James accrued 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists at the same time as taking pictures 14 of twenty-two from the sector — which, in its own way, become just some other night time on the office. He simply occurs to make brilliance sense acquainted.
“I’m continually even keel approximately the technique,” James said. “Tonight turned into an opportunity for us to get higher, and we did that.”
In the second sector, James chased down the Celtics’ Marcus Smart as he tried a layup and blocked the shot with two arms. (Last every body heard, the ball wound up somewhere in Rhode Island.) James’s momentum carried him into an steeply-priced segment of seating close to the basket, whereupon he excessive-fived several enthusiasts wearing Cleveland equipment. Irving known as him a “madman.”
The Celtics trailed by using as many as 29. Coach Brad Stevens stated he felt fortunate because it can had been even worse. His crew were given drubbed.
“They’re so versatile with how many exclusive ways they can play,” Stevens said, “and that’s in most cases because of the truth they’ve got a man at 6-8, 260 who can play all five positions.”
The win changed into even greater magnificent thinking about that it was the second one of lower back-to-lower back games for Cleveland, coming on the heels of a victory in opposition to the Orlando Magic in Cleveland on Tuesday night. In addition, Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers’ beginning center, did now not make the experience to Boston due to a sprained thumb.