LeBron, Cavs aim to rebound from clunker

Sam Amico

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored a measly 11 points, got into it with a fan and accused a reporter of only coming around "when we lose."

Other than that, the Cavaliers superstar had a great day.

Actually, things didn't go well at all for James and the Cavs in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, a 111-108 home loss to the Boston Celtics.

But the final score was almost a sidelight -- as the Cavs failed to take care of business against a team they had buried by 44 points two nights earlier.

How does that happen?

Easy. The Cavs were due for a clunker. They had not lost a playoff game since Game 4 of last season's Finals, a 3-1 deficit against Golden State that they eventually overcame.

This isn't nearly as dire. As James said after, it's almost good that the Cavs got this out of the way.

They have a tendency to take their foot off their gas, as James put it. Losing here taught them a valuable lesson.

The moral at hand? This is the NBA. And let up for even a minute or two, and you're likely to get shamed.

Game 3 never should have happened. The Cavs were up 66-50 at halftime and James had yet to get going. Instead, the Cavs rallied behind the likes of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those two are fine players, but they're not James. The Cavs need James to win, to finish the job, to take over.

Instead, James couldn't shoot straight (1-of-8 in second half), so he tried to defer and the Cavs went thud.

“I didn’t have it,” James told reporters. “I just didn’t. I played poorly. But I’m glad it happened."

Glad it happened? Why on earth would someone chose a 2-1 series lead over a 3-0 lead? Well, maybe because the Cavs feel like they're going to win this series. Maybe they feel like it's just a matter of time (like the rest of the basketball world).

Maybe they needed a night where they were "off," where they learned wins don't just happen because you assume so. Maybe the Cavs were reminded this is what happens when you only defend 24 minutes for a 48-minute game.

But it was only one game, and the Cavs get another at home Tuesday (8:30 p.m., TNT).

"We’ve got to figure out how to be better in Game 4,” James said. “We look forward to the challenge. I think it’s great — what happened hurts. It’s a loss in the postseason. But I’m glad it kind of hurt, that it happened the way it did."

Now James and the Cavs are hoping to do the things to make sure it doesn't happen again.

NOTEBOOK

James' 11 points Sunday snapped a streak in which he scored 30 or more eight straight times. ... Also, his 11 points were the fewest he scored in a playoff game since scoring seven for Miami against Indiana in May 2014. ... Cavs coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that James is "human so he’s going to have a night like this." ... As for Game 4, Lue simply stated, "We know what we gotta do." ... As Cavs.com noted, overall, the Cavs are second in the NBA in postseason points per game (115.3) and field-goal percentage (.494), and lead all playoff teams in three-point percentage (.430), offensive rating (119.4) and three-pointers made per game (14.6). ... The Cavs will again don their white jerseys.

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