Cleveland Cavaliers' James Jones, right, and LeBron James sit on the bench against the Boston Celtics during the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Cleveland. In Act 2, the Cavaliers rose from an impossible 3-1 Finals hole - exactly as you'd expect a trilogy to script the climax of its second movie - to stun a Warriors team that was gleefully standing on Cleveland's grave, so sure they were about to punctuate a league-record 73-win season with a title.
You can catch Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, June 1 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. So the crowd serenaded Ginobili with "Manu, Manu" chants as the game came to a close.The Celtics lost the first two games of this series in Boston by a total of 57 combined points. He coming off of a 17 point, 17 rebound night in Game 4 and should be able to continue his dominance over the Boston front court in Game 5.
The Warriors and Cavs know this better than anyone as their most recent NBA Finals failings and success were in some part due to the physical toll the NBA season takes on high usage players.
The Celtics, who are missing their best player, injured guard Isaiah Thomas, led by as many as 16 points in the first half and appeared primed to stun Cleveland again while James flirted with trouble.
While Irving's scoring ignited the Cavs' comeback, it was made possible thanks to Cleveland's defensive effort over the final 24 minutes.
James recovered from an 11-point, 4-of-13 shooting night he endured in Cleveland's stunning Game 3 loss.
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"We need the best possible player that's gonna help us win, and I'm with that", said Thomas. "We have to execute offensively". Kevin Durant, Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston and Zaza Pauchilia have all been held out of game this postseason due to health concerns. Irving stayed on the floor and finished the game, but with a day off between games there will be interest in how tender his ankle is at tipoff.
"Everybody's saying I've gotta be patient", Thomas said. In Game 2, he scored 53 points - one shy of John Havlicek's franchise record.
On the topic of age, the fact that James entered the National Basketball Association right out of high school, and played at an all-star level nearly right away, is his biggest advantage over his historical competition. He drew within one of Jordan on a thunderous third-quarter dunk, then passed his childhood idol shortly afterward on a three-pointer.
It's an indication that despite still being in a dire 3-1 hole, the resolve inside Boston's locker room remains strong. "But we're going to enjoy this for a couple more days before we have to lock in on that juggernaut out west".
"I don't care who you're playing, to make it to the NBA Finals, to win your conference finals, it's a big task", Brown said.
"You can't (think about it)". He will have to wait for more tests until the swelling goes down, he said. Game 3 and we nearly had Game 4, I was at home cheering and getting even more hyped, jumping up. And it's making us tougher.
"He was born to play one-on-one", James said of Irving. They've worked so hard to get to this point.