Playoffs 2017: East Finals -- Celtics (1) vs. Cavaliers (2)
LeBron James locked in for Game 4 after being locked out in Game 3
Tom Withers | The Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James had that look – faraway, yet focused.
The Boston Celtics have his undivided attention.
Following one of the worst postseason games of his career, James provided a candid review of his performance after breaking down film of Game 3 in the Eastern Conference finals.
“It wasn’t tough to watch,” he said as the Cavaliers prepared for Tuesday night’s Game 4. “We had opportunities. It is what it is. They played a hell of a game and they took it to us and we weren’t able to stop the runs that they made.
“Some of the plays that we made, some of the plays that I made, I was like, ‘What are we doing?’ or ‘What could I have done better?’ But you figure out the next game and go forward.”
James scored just 11 points and committed six turnovers in Game 2 on Sunday night, when the Celtics overcame a 21-point deficit in the third quarter to pull off an upset the odds makers in Las Vegas said was the biggest in the NBA playoffs over the past 20 years.
It was the fourth-lowest point total for James in 210 career playoff games. The point total was stunning considering it broke James’ streak of scoring at least 30 points in eight straight playoff games. It was the first time in 11 games in this postseason in which he scored fewer than 25.
Typically, James bounces back following poor games.
“It’s fun to watch knowing that when he has bad nights, a lot of times some very, very, very good nights follow,” said Cavs forward James Jones, who has been James’ teammate the past seven years. “It’s what he does.”
James went just 4 of 13 from the field in Game 3. More unusual was that he didn’t attack the basket with his customary tenacity.
And while James was criticized in some circles for not doing more, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was understandably cautious in his analysis.
His team is back in the series after being blown out in Games 1 and 2 at home, and Stevens probably didn’t want to rankle James.
“I thought LeBron made a lot of the right plays,” he said. “When you’ve got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them. He just made it over and over. The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He’s a really good defender. He can read situations. So I thought he was pretty darned good. I’m not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”
James, who didn’t speak to the media Monday, didn’t provide many detailed answers during a brief interview session at the team’s practice facility.
Asked for the keys to Game 4, he simply said “win” and walked away.