The 1st round of NBA playoffs seems way too easy for LeBron
Apr. 26, 2015
The first round of the NBA playoffs seems too easy for LeBron James.
He's never lost a first-round series. His teams are 39-7 in first-round games. And when Cleveland visits Boston in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference matchup today, James and the Cavaliers will be taking the court with a 3-0 lead.
If that wasn't enough, consider what James did Saturday in a video posted by his longtime personal trainer Mike Mancias — a clip that was all over the web within minutes. From one corner of the TD Garden court, James flung a ball quarterback-style toward the basket at the other end.
That's probably not a good sign for the Celtics.
"You know the type of pressure that the opposing team is under. It's win or go home for them," James said Saturday. "And they're going to bring everything in the toolbox that they have to try to get this victory and compete. For us, we have to stay calm, play our game, do what we've been doing and treat Game 4 like a Game 1."
Sunday could be Sweepsday not just for Cleveland, but for Houston and Washington as well. Washington looks to finish off a four-game ousting of Toronto, and the Rockets have Dallas in a 3-0 hole in their first-round matchup.
Also, defending NBA champion San Antonio looks to take a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Wizards haven't swept anyone since 1982, and that was in a best-of-three. Houston could be headed to the second round for just the second time since 1997, and could win a 4-0 series for the first time since the 1995 NBA Finals — the most recent instance of the Rockets winning the title.
"Our mindset is get greedy," Rockets guard James Harden said. "Get greedy, don't let up and just stay focused."
Maybe it was just coincidence, but not long after James' fullcourt shot in Boston set Twitter aflame, the Rockets' Dwight Howard connected on a similar heave.
Still, Dallas probably would enjoy seeing Howard do that in games, since they had no answer for his 26-rebound performance in Game 3.
The Mavs also thought Howard and the Rockets are getting help. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle got fined $25,000 for complaining about officiating after Friday's 130-128 loss.
"I accept the fine," Carlisle said. "I have strong feelings about how I feel about my team and I'm going to fight for my team."
The Spurs-Clippers matchup resumes after San Antonio rolled to a 27-point win on Friday night. On Saturday, Tim Duncan celebrated his 39th birthday, and another home win for the Spurs would make it about as perfect a weekend as the defending champs could have wanted.
A look at the games, all times EDT:
Cavaliers at Celtics, Cleveland leads 3-0, 1 p.m., ABC
For the fifth straight year, LeBron James has a 3-0 lead in a first-round series. And no NBA team has ever blown such a lead in the playoffs.
So the Celtics will try just about anything now, with good reason.
Forward Jae Crowder indicated that he's going into Sunday's starting lineup for Boston, which has had chances at times in each of the first three games.
"Nobody wants to be in the situation where you're down 3-0," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "Everybody wants to be with the '3' and nobody with the '0.'"
Getting Kevin Love going in Game 3 was a great sign for Cleveland, and it made Kyrie Irving's struggles in that game — 3 for 11 shooting — basically unnoticed.
Clippers at Spurs, San Antonio leads 2-1, 3:30 p.m., ABC
In Game 3, the Spurs' Tim Duncan tied a playoff career-low with four points, and Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker — the other members of San Antonio's "Big 3" — were non-factors as well.
And the Spurs still won by 27, thanks in large part to defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard turning in the offensive game of his NBA career, a 32-point gem.
The defending champs are looking like champions again, and have gone on to win 19 of their last 21 series when holding a 2-1 lead or better. No Clipper team has ever won a series in which it trailed after three games.
Raptors at Wizards, Washington leads 3-0, 6:30 p.m., TNT
They really, really don't like Paul Pierce now in Toronto.
Pierce told his teammates that he didn't want to have to endure any more stops at the U.S.-Canadian border in this series for check-ins with Customs officials, and he's one more win from making that happen. His 11 fourth-quarter points not only helped seal Game 3, but it was his biggest scoring total in a final period of any game this season.
"We just can't get it all together right now," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "Bad time to not all be on the same wavelength."
Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson are shooting a combined 72 percent in the series for Toronto. The rest of the Raptors: 35 percent.
Meanwhile, Washington guard John Wall — even while shooting 37 percent — has 40 assists in three games.
Rockets at Mavericks, Houston leads 3-0, 9 p.m., TNT
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle knows what history says, that teams are 0-for-forever when down 3-0 in an NBA playoff series.
"Everybody talks about history and how it's never been done," Carlisle said. "Someday, somebody's going to do it."
The Rockets have gotten 108 free throws in the first three games — part of the reason why Houston has averaged 119.7 points — but the big factor from Game 3 was Houston's 17 offensive rebounds.
Dallas is just 3-11 in playoff games since winning the NBA title, and needs a win Sunday to stave off a second sweep in its last three first-round appearances.
AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas and AP freelance writers Ken Powtak in Boston and Ben Standig in Washington contributed to this report.