That’s how many points per game the Warriors scored in transition in the postseason, the most of any team in the league. While fast-break scoring typically drops off in the playoffs, the Warriors saw a dip from their league-high 24.7 points per game in transition during the season, a difference of only 2.7 points. Compare to last season, when they dropped from 22.5 points on the break in the regular season to 18.2 in the postseason. This time around, even in the playoffs, they’ve continued to run.
One other thing: Cleveland’s defense triggered that offense.
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In order to be successful you have to defend, especially against a team like this who move the ball, share the ball, move bodies, and they are very precise with their offensive sets, James said. You have to defend, and that allows us to get out to our best attribute at times, and that’s to get out on the open floor.
James then put on that long-awaited show in the fourth quarter with 15 points. He threw down an emphatic jam over Jaylen Brown. He delivered a well-timed 3-pointer with 3:51 left. A drive-in layup over Jonas Jarebko put the Cavs back up by double digits in the final minutes. There wasn’t a dagger, but rather a series of cuts in crunch time that put Boston on the brink of elimination. Isn’t that what everybody came to see?
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Well, everybody but Boston coach Brad Stevens. How did the Celtics lose that lead?
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, Stevens said. That would be my answer. Irving was incredible at the end of the third, and LeBron had all those baskets in the fourth.
This will go down as a big-time, bounce-back performance by James, which seemed improbable after that fourth foul in the first half. That’s what the great ones do.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise James added Tuesday’s unique challenge to the list of those he has answered. He’s ready for the next one, too.
The close-out game is always the hardest, James said. And Boston is going to make it even harder.