Game Quotes: Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks - May 24

Q. After the last game, you said you were running out of superlatives to describe LeBron. How would you describe tonight's game?
COACH BLATT: Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. I have never seen a stat line like that in a playoff game, or in any other game, to be honest with you.
It's not just the stat line. It's a lot more than that, you know. LeBron cramped up, and he knew that we could not win the game without him, and he played through pain, and he played through the cramping, and he just wouldn't let us lose. Just would not let us lose. Amazing.

Q. I was going to ask what LeBron's injuries were. It looked like they were working on his knee throughout the game. I saw in overtime, like four minutes left, he had motioned to you to come out, and then he stayed back in. Were you looking
COACH BLATT: It was tough for him to convince me to keep him on the floor. It really was. I sort of said, Okay.

Q. Can you tell us at any length what it is that he's battling injury wise?
COACH BLATT: I don't know. I do know he smiled in the locker room, and that's a good sign.

Q. So many ebbs and flows, twists and turns in this game. The slow start, LeBron started 0 for 10 and the numbers
COACH BLATT: Can you imagine if he started quickly, what we would have seen out here tonight? Holy smokes. Or he was setting us up for it, I don't know.

Q. Could be like Kyrie earlier this year, right?

Q. As far as turning it around, what do you think got him going, and what do you think turned it around for you guys tonight?
COACH BLATT: We didn't stop playing. Honestly, in the first quarter, we just couldn't get the ball to go down. We had a lot of shots on the rim. We didn't turn it over a whole lot. We weren't making a whole lot of mistakes. Just couldn't make shots. We stayed with it. We kept playing the way we wanted to play. I thought Atlanta put up a great fight tonight. I give them credit for what they did on the floor and how they competed.
Even more credit to our guys, the way they hung in and just refused to lose.

Q. David, did you get an explanation on the technical foul when Dellavedova was involved in the mix-up with Horford there?
COACH BLATT: I didn't get a real specific explanation, to be honest with you. I would be interested to hear about it or read about it or whatever.

Q. Tristan Thompson picked up his fifth foul about halfway through the fourth quarter. You took him out briefly, put him back in, and played him the rest of the game. Can you explain how you had the confidence to do that, you're with him playing with five fouls.
COACH BLATT: Well, Tristan is a good defender, and he plays the game right, and we needed him on the floor. We needed another rebounder, and we needed his defensive capability. The game could have got away from us there. I had to make a decision. I had to take a risk, and hoped that he could play foul free. I didn't expect that he'd have to play foul free for five more minutes in the overtime, which he did, to his credit, and he had a lot to do with us winning that game.

Q. With Kyrie, the decision before the game not to play him, can you just give us the thought process on that? And close-out game, Game No. 4, looking forward to that, is he going to be available, or will that be a game time decision as well?
COACH BLATT: In consultation with the doctors and by the doctors' decision, we decided to hold him out. I really don't know about 48 hours from now. That will be, again, most likely a game time decision. We're just hoping for him to get well and hoping we can get him back as soon as possible.
If I may say, the other guys are stepping up, and the other guys are giving everything they have to make up for Kev [Kevin Love] not playing, for Kyrie not playing, with no excuses and no quit. They're just hanging in there and doing everything they can to help the Cavs win. That's great to see. That's what a team does.

Q. The rotation down to only seven guys, really -- I mean, Shawn just played a couple of minutes -- and heavy minutes at that, way up in the 40s like it was tonight because of the overtime. Can you see Kyrie, notwithstanding an increased rotation, come Tuesday or is it just gut it out time, and these are the guys you've got to go with?
COACH BLATT: I missed the part about Kyrie.

Q. I'm saying Kyrie notwithstanding, taking him out of the mix because whether or not he comes back on Tuesday. Would other guys increase the rotation beyond what you have, or do you think these are the seven, eight guys we can go to war with plus Kyrie?
COACH BLATT: First of all, we can go to war with everybody, but we played the game to win it, and I rotated the players as I saw fit for us to win it. If that's what it takes, that's what we'll do. If it means we've got to do something else or I've got to do something else, I'll do that, too, because everybody's got to be ready to play and everybody's got to be ready to step in.
We are having our difficulties in terms of missing guys and missing minutes, and we're just trying to figure out how to play it. Fortunately, TV timeouts are long, and the number of timeouts are great. We're figuring out how to get a little extra rest here and there for guys, and guys are responding well.

Q. Coach, you're talking about mixing and matching. One of the things it seemed like is that you had some other people bringing the ball up other than Delly and LeBron at times. Could you speak to that? And also, J.R.'s incredible rebounding during this game.
COACH BLATT: I thought we did offensively pretty much what we wanted to do, and we did share the ball handling duties some partly because of what we wanted to run on offense and partly just to avoid fatigue or over-fatigue.
J.R. Smith played a great game. He defended his position, and he made a couple of huge, huge shots. Ten rebounds for a two guard, that's pretty impressive, and it just seemed like every one of them was important, really important, and he was engaged, and he stuck his nose in there to help us out in the gray areas of the game and did, once again, just a great job. J.R. has been great since day one, as I've told you, and he's consistent. He keeps giving it to us.

Q. What are you learning about this team as it goes through the playoffs with the different things happening?
COACH BLATT: It makes me think of John Wayne's True Grit, to be honest with you. The guys are gritty. They're not going to give in to anything. That's to our credit, to our players' credit. The Cavaliers have got a lot of heartful guys, and that's a good thing.

Q. LeBron, after Mack misses the second three there, you drop to the floor and kind of slap the floor. What was going through your mind at that point?
LeBRON JAMES: I gave it everything I had tonight. My teammates did. Played our tail off, and to be able to win the game like this, with so many ups and downs and so many lead changes, it's a huge win for our team.

Q. LeBron, you started 0 for 10 tonight but still had an amazing stat line. Can you just take us through the slow start. What got you going? And if you could, compare this to Game 5 in Detroit in '07.
LeBRON JAMES: I was struggling earlier. I missed a lot of shots that I know I'm capable of making, obviously. Missed a lot of layups. Missed a couple threes, and my teammates kept me afloat.
I think I was 0 for 9 at the end of the first quarter, but it was 24-21 [for Atlanta] at the end of the first quarter. We were in the game because of my teammates. They picked me up, and I just tried to do some other things while we were struggling offensively as far as shooting.
For me, offense, as far as scoring, doesn't define my game. I've always wanted to be a triple threat in this league, being able to rebound and to assist and also to score. So when I wasn't scoring and those guys were picking me up, I was able to do other things to help us go.
Every game is different as far as the Game 5 in Detroit. Compared to this game, it's so much different. It was a 2 2 series at that point being in Detroit. Tonight is a 2 0 series being back home. This is much different, but the win feels great.

Q. Matthew, I wanted to see if you could just respond to Al Horford, he claims that he said that he feels you have a track record now for hurting opponents. I wanted to get your take on the play and that comment.
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: I would obviously disagree with that. I was boxing him out, and you can see from the baseline view that he's pulling my left arm down.

Q. LeBron, also, how are you feeling now? And what do you do to recover from what happened today?
LeBRON JAMES: How am I feeling? I've been better. It will be around the clock treatment, as usual, to get my mind, get my body ready for Tuesday.

Q. LeBron, I've heard it said in the past, Larry Bird used to say that rebounding was mostly will. You had 20 rebounding opportunities; you grabbed 18 of them. Could you tell me about your will to rebound.
LeBRON JAMES: Well, we needed it tonight. We gave ourselves 19 offensive rebounds, extra possessions when we weren't shooting the ball well. For me, we played a lot of small ball tonight. But even when we're big, I just try to help our bigs out, try to help rebound. It's good offense for us when I'm able to rebound, able to push the break.
Just being in that mindset that I tried to get every rebound possible that was in my lane. One or two I could have got, like you said, but just being in the mix and just helping us get extra possessions.

Q. LeBron, Blatt described your injury as cramps. I know you grabbed your leg several times during the game. Was this similar to what you had gone through in Miami in The Finals last year and previous years or something different?
LeBRON JAMES: No, it's probably, it's the same thing. I play to exhaustion. I play hard and I give my teammates, and I give myself as much as I can give. Sometimes the body just kind of shuts down at times, and that's what happened tonight at one point.
Even in the overtime, I asked to come out, but I had a second thought, and there was no way I can go I wouldn't have felt right about the situation, win, lose, or draw, if I'd have went to the bench and not being out there for my teammates. So it was mind over matter at that point.

Q. For either of you, when you're out there, what responsibility do you have for the safety of the other nine guys on the floor?
LeBRON JAMES: What does that mean?

Q. In terms of style play, do you have to be mindful of whether it's running into a guy, whether you're going up for a foul, hard foul?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, you just play the game the right way. At this point, you try to do whatever it takes to win. You don't want to hurt nobody. No one, I think, in our league goes around trying to hurt people, but you don't take the aggressive nature out of the game.

I think in the case of ever since you were a kid, the ball on the floor, the first man to the floor usually gets the ball. There's no difference between what Delly did to Kyle Korver last game and 18 guys diving on the floor late in the game tonight. It was like six or seven guys diving on the floor for that loose ball. Delly was on the floor. J.J. was on the floor. Mike Scott was on the floor. Shump was on the floor. J.R. was on the floor. Just no one got hurt.
There's no difference between me boxing out or Al Horford boxing me out and Delly boxing someone out. That is a fundamental box out. That's all it is. And we all know that. We don't never want to play with the integrity of the game and try to get people hurt. That's not what it's about because we all want brotherhood at the end of the day, NBA family. But I play to win the game, and you play aggressively. That's what it's about.

Q. LeBron, that corner three has been pretty good to you these playoffs so far. Is there any
LeBRON JAMES: I need to shoot more from the corner (laughter). No other three has been good to me, basically, is what you're saying.

Q. Is there any story behind Tristan Thompson suggested that perhaps Damon Jones deserves some credit?
LeBRON JAMES: Which side of the credit? The I'm not shooting so well credit or

Q. You tell us.
LeBRON JAMES: I mean he does, for sure. We work every day, just trying to get the ball up there and not think about it too much. First of all, the offensive rebound by Double T was huge. I see in his mind that he wanted to go back up for that shot, and I yelled his name probably as loud as I could yell it because I wanted another opportunity.
I saw Paul Millsap running a little out of control, just gave him a pump fake, and I just stick to my routine. Things that I worked on all year long, make or miss, and I would be satisfied with the result.

Q. LeBron, would an earlier version of yourself have been able to handle an 0 for 10 start as well as you did? Would it have affected you more a few years ago?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, not a few years ago. A few is probably like three or four. I was still going to The Finals at that point.
Probably 23, 24, 25 maybe. I think just because I've had experience. It's not about the younger LeBron or anything like that. I've been able to have experience over the years that's helped me to get to this point. I really don't my game is so much better than it was when I was younger, and I just try to everything that I've worked on over the course of years and the mental side of the game, I just try to incorporate that on the floor, no matter if I'm making shots or missing shots or whatever the case may be.

Q. LeBron and Matthew, first of all, Matthew, DeMarre Carroll said that a player should never dive at another player's feet. Okay to dive for a basketball but never to dive at another player's feet. In the case of Korver in Game 2, in the case of Horford tonight, did you feel that you were guilty of doing any such thing?
LeBRON JAMES: I got it.
MATTHEW DELLAVEDOVA: I can answer if you want. I saw the ball [on the play with Korver]. I dived on the floor. If I stay on my belly, it's going to be a jump ball. So I protect the ball and kick it out to a teammate.
On the other one, I'm boxing him out. He's pulling my left arm down. I'm trying to stay up, and he's just pulling me down. I mean, the tape's there.
LeBRON JAMES: There's no in Game 2, when Antic two hand shoves me out of the air. The fact that I'm still playing, we don't talk about it, but he two hand shoves me in the air. So what are we really talking about? Are we going to talk about us trying to win basketball games or about those guys trying to figure out a way that Matthew Dellavedova is this type of this guy, he works his tail off every single day. He beats the odds, and he comes to play as hard as he can every single night.
If they're focused on Delly, then they're focused on the wrong thing.

Q. Since you brought that up, Bron, when you talk about Antic, do you feel there are some things that the Hawks are doing that maybe Delly is getting some of the criticism for your team in general?
LeBRON JAMES: That's not really our concern. Obviously, I'm a little bit off about it because this is my guy, this is my teammate, and this is a guy that goes out and works his tail off every single night, and people are trying to give him a bad rap. He doesn't deserve it, and I don't like it. But I'm not going to get involved in anything that's outside of basketball. That's not my place.
What I care about is how we prepare every single night, how we prepare in the film session, which we will have another one tomorrow, and how we go about trying to win a basketball game. That's going to get 99.9 percent of my mental. But I will protect my guys for sure.

Q. Can you guys talk about being a game away from making it to The Finals. And what needs to happen for you guys to get it done here?
LeBRON JAMES: Just got to do we defend. Our coaching staff will give us a game plan, and it's up to us to go out and execute it. We had a lot of mistakes tonight. We did some things well, but we had a lot of mistakes tonight that we can clean up. If we come in with our defensive mindset, as we've had the whole playoffs so far, we give ourselves a chance to advance. If not, then there will be a Game 5.

Q. LeBron, is that more pain than you've ever played through at any point in your career? And how do you do that when you're hurting and you just keep pushing through even when you're about to break?
LeBRON JAMES: It's current, so I would say yeah. I don't remember how I felt two years ago in a certain situation, but I'm playing through a lot. It doesn't matter. I don't want any sympathy. There's no rest for the weary. If I'm putting on a uniform and I'm on the floor, I have to make things happen for our team. It's that simple.
I'm not the only guy that's limping. I'm not the only guy that's cramping. I'm not the only guy that's hurting. There are a lot of guys out there playing as well, and I'm one of them as well. So I've got to go out and help our team win, no matter where I'm at.

Q. LeBron, could you talk about Shump and J.R., how big they were tonight, how big they've been to the Cavs. The defense they play, the big shots they hit, maybe the emergence of Matthew also, especially in the light of Kyrie and his absence and what they've meant to you guys.
LeBRON JAMES: Those three guys, obviously, J.R. and Shump, to answer the first part of your question, they were huge tonight. J.R. gives us a double double, and no one talks about it. Gives us 17 and 10. And obviously, what Shump does, he rebounds, he defends whoever you need him to defend, and he gives us 15 points tonight as well.
And the guy next to me, he's been thrown into a situation that he wasn't thrown in all season for the most part, and that's starting, being our starting point guard, with Kyrie being absent the last couple games. And those three guys have answered the call. They've played exceptional basketball. They've defended. They've done everything we need them to do. We need them to do it a little bit more.
It's just every game is going to be challenging. As hard as it was to win tonight, Game 4 is going to be just as hard as it was tonight. But those three guys are playing unbelievable basketball. Without them, we wouldn't be sitting here at this point.

COACH BUDENHOLZER: I'm very proud of the way our group competed. They gave us chances and opportunities, and if we compete like that every possession that's how we're built. That's the character of our players, and we'll expect the same thing going into Game 4.

Q. Bud, I'm just wondering your thoughts on Al's ejection. Do you think he should have been thrown out? And kind of how the team responded after that.
COACH BUDENHOLZER: I'll answer the second question first. I think the team responded well, obviously competing and giving ourselves a chance. I think Al is very, just like all of us, proud of the effort of his teammates.
I've looked at the play, and officiating in our league is very difficult. From the replays, for me, it's somewhat difficult to see whether his elbow hits the shoulder first or hits the head first. If he hits the shoulder first, then I think it's not something that's an action that deserves ejection. If he hit him in the head, then it's an action that deserves ejection.

Q. With LeBron starting 0 for 10 and them shooting only 31 percent, I think, early on, what did you say to your team? Even though you were up and could have had a bigger lead, you didn't really extend that lead when they were struggling.
COACH BUDENHOLZER: I mean, it's the playoffs. It's going to be difficult. I thought our defense was excellent. We wanted to maintain our defense. If we took care of the boards, it would give us a better chance to either extend or maintain a lead. That's the challenge every night, every game. Of course, we'd love to have a bigger lead, but we were pleased with our defense, and we were pleased with where we were at that time.

Q. Coach, before the game, I asked you about Jeff Teague. How do you think he responded during this game?
COACH BUDENHOLZER: I thought Jeff was great. His aggressiveness, his ability to get in the paint, make plays in the paint, make a few threes. He was very good tonight. A lot of good plays by Jeff.

Q. Coach, forgive my tardiness. You may have already answered that question: What was your vantage on the Dellavedova Horford play, and should Horford have been ejected?
COACH BUDENHOLZER: I've already answered that question.

Q. Just wondering why Pero Antic didn't play until the final minute of the game?
COACH BUDENHOLZER: You're always having to make difficult decisions with who plays, and Pero has been a huge part of our team and our success. It's great to have him there ready. I think with Mike Scott, it spreads the floor, gives us more three point shooting, and I felt like that was important.
Pero's ready, and we will use him whenever we feel like it can help us.

Q. You used Schröder and Teague pretty readily as a backcourt combo. Dennis didn't see much time tonight. What was your thinking?
COACH BUDENHOLZER: Similar. I think that the ability to make some shots and some perimeter shots and just keep them spread out, play with a little more movement, ball movement, motion. I thought Shelvin played well tonight. So we just kind of went with Shelvin. Jeff played a lot. So it's just in game decisions. You have to make hard decisions like that.

Q. Question for both: How are you guys able to not only stay in the game but take a lead once Al went down?
SHELVIN MACK: Just playing hard. Competing at a high level. It's a 48 minute game. I think we did a great job of playing the full 48 minutes. And somebody's going to come out with the win tonight.
KENT BAZEMORE: Echo what he said. We played hard. We came here with the mindset that we could win the game. We fought all the way down to the buzzer. We had a lot of chances down the stretch to ice the game. But missing veterans like Al and Kyle, it's kind of tough with new guys stepping in.
I love the effort from my guys tonight, and I look forward to Game 4.

Q. What did each of you see on the Horford Dellavedova play, and what was your reaction to the ruling?
KENT BAZEMORE: It's a tough call, man. From my point of view, Dellavedova was down on Al's knees, and it was retaliation, I think. But it's playoff basketball. We have a good staff of referees, and they went and looked at it for 10 minutes until they got it right. You can't argue with that.
You look at his track record and his history, a lot of things can be said, but at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. We lost Al, and still had a game to play.
SHELVIN MACK: Same thing he said. The ref's in a tough spot when they've got to make a judgment call like that. Dellavedova plays hard. Like I said, he's got a track record doing things like that. But we had to move on. It's tough when you've got a leader like that going in the back.

Q. Both of you guys mentioned the long, elongated wait for the review. What's going through your mind during that review? What are you thinking? What are you guys doing during that time? How do you even deal with that process?
KENT BAZEMORE: You know, you always think worst case and then best case. Worst case, he gets ejected. So you start gearing toward that, getting your mind right. We see the replay and the crowd getting into it. So you've just got to turn your focus into the next step. You can't really let that affect anything. You always hope for the best, but in the back of your mind, be ready for the worst.


  • The Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Atlanta Hawks 114-111 in overtime to take a 3-0 lead in  the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the ninth overtime game in Cavs postseason history (6-3) and the first since 5/26/09 at Orlando. The Wine and Gold remain undefeated against the Hawks in franchise postseason history (7-0).
  • The Cavaliers 114 points were a 2015 postseason high. It was the Cavaliers sixth playoff game of at least 100 points (6-0) and they remained perfect at home (27-0) when scoring 100+ points this year (regular season and postseason included).
  • Cleveland tied a 2015 postseason high and franchise playoff record with 14 triples on the night and are 18-1 this season (regular season and postseason included) when making at least 14 three-pointers in a game. Cleveland also dished out a 2015 playoff-high 24 assists in the victory.
  • The Cavs defense held the Hawks to .409 shooting from the field, including .360 from the third quarter on. It was the eighth time this postseason that the Cavaliers have held their opponent under .410 shooting from the field.
  • Cleveland dominated Atlanta on the glass as they held a 56-42 rebound advantage. Cleveland had 19 offensive rebounds on the night which were the most since 5/8/07 vs. New Jersey. The Wine and Gold remain undefeated (11-0) in the 2015 postseason when outrebounding its opponent.  Through the first three games of the season, the Cavaliers have outrebounded the Hawks 50.7 to 39.3.
  • LeBron James collected his first triple-double of the 2015 playoffs (12th in postseason career) after recording game-high’s in points (37), rebounds (18 / 8-offensive) and assists (13), to go along with three steals in 47 minutes. It was James’ third straight game of at least 30 points, his seventh of the postseason and 75th of his playoff career which moved him past Jerry West (74) and put him into a tie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (75) for the third-most 30-point games in NBA playoff history. For the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, James is now averaging 32.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 10.0 assists in 41.3 minutes.
  • James becomes the first player in NBA postseason history to put together a stat line of at least 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. The last player in NBA history to have that stat line was Philadelphia’s Wilt Chamberlain (53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists) in a 158-128 victory over Los Angeles on 3/18/68. (Elias Sports Bureau)
  • James eclipsed several milestones on the evening as he now has the second-most triple-doubles (12) in NBA postseason history behind only Magic Johnson (30), while also moving into 6th place on the NBA’s all-time postseason scoring list after passing Karl Malone (4,761 points). James’ three steals on the night also moved him into a tie with Maurice Cheeks (295) for the eighth-most steals in NBA playoff history.
  • James’ 18 rebounds were a 2015 playoff high and tied for the second most in his playoff career (19 at Boston, 5/13/10). His eight offensive rebounds were a personal best for his postseason career.
  • J.R. Smith notched the second double-double of his playoff career after he finished the night with 17 points, a playoff career-high tying 10 boards and two blocks in 38 minutes off the bench. Smith has now scored in double figures in six of the seven games as a reserve and is averaging 18.0 points on .500 shooting from the field, including .500 shooting from behind the arc, 6.7 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.0 block in the series against Atlanta.
  • Iman Shumpert knocked down 4-8 (.500) shots from long distance and registered 15 points and seven boards in 43 minutes. Shumpert has now hit four triples in back-to-back games 
  • Matthew Dellavedova got his second straight start for the Cavs and tallied 17 points, including playoff career-high 4-9 (.444) makes from three-point land, three boards and two assists in 45 minutes.
  • Tristan Thompson finished the night with 10 points on 5-7 (.714) shooting from the field, seven rebounds and two blocks in 43 minutes of play.