LeBron James scored 44 points, surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop a postseason list and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers even the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 on Monday night with a 111-102 victory over the Boston Celtics, who must be looking forward to getting home. Pushed on by a raucous crowd, the Cavs held off Boston’s comeback in the fourth quarter and squared a series that is now effectively a best-of-three.
Cleveland are trying to become the 20th team out of 300 to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies, is a step closer to a third. But to do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.
Kyle Korver added 14 points with several hustle plays, and Tristan Thompson had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland. Jaylen Brown scored 25 and Boston had five scorers in double figures, but the Celtics fell behind by 19 in the first-half and didn’t have enough to catch Cleveland. And, of course, they didn’t have James, who moved past Jabbar (2,356) for the most field goals in playoff history. James also recorded his 25th career postseason game with at least 40 points, his sixth in this postseason.
Like most observers, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has been stunned but not necessarily disappointed by the number of lopsided wins in the playoffs, especially in the Conference finals.
The first six games between Boston-Cleveland and Houston-Golden State were decided by an average of 24 points. The Warriors won Game 3 on Sunday night by 41, the largest margin of victory in playoff franchise history. “It does surprise me,” he said. “All four teams are really good. But the home court has shown it’s been a factor.”
Game 5 is on Wednesday night at TD Center.