LeBron James Says Cavs Teammates Took Pressure off Him and Kevin Love in Game 3

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2018

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and center Kevin Love sit on the bench during the second half in Game 2 of the team's NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

LeBron James (27 points, five rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, two blocks) and Kevin Love (13 points, 14 rebounds, four assists) each had double-doubles, but the Cleveland Cavaliers' supporting cast came through as well in their 116-86 victory over the Boston Celtics in Saturday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

"We always sit up here and talk about how much pressure me and Kev try to take off our teammates," James told reporters. "Those guys took pressure off us tonight. Their aggression just settled us in and allowed us to play free as well."

Six Cavaliers scored in double figures, including all five starters. The balanced attack and blowout win allowed James to rest down the stretch, which could pay dividends moving forward after the 33-year-old led the league in total minutes this season.

George Hill was particularly aggressive early and finished with 13 points, which forced Boston to shade defensive attention his way and turn away from double-teams at times.

Elsewhere, Tristan Thompson had 10 points and seven rebounds, but his impact went beyond the box score. He was the primary defender on Al Horford throughout and held him to just seven points and four assists on 2-of-4 shooting.

Horford wasn't able to establish himself as the multidimensional threat he has been throughout the playoffs with post-ups and facilitating from the high elbow, which was a major reason Boston never got on track.

The Cavaliers are still going to run the offense through James in Monday's Game 4 and count on Love to be his All-Star secondary option, but they are only going to go so far if the pair is asked to do too much.

Boston's defense led the league in defensive rating this season, per NBA.com, and can devise plans to limit the damage if just James and Love are playing well. But it is difficult to account for so many other options in addition to one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

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