Key: Long Live the King
This year’s 2016-17 MVP might not be announced until June, but the announcement of the game’s greatest player took place on Thursday night, when LeBron James had a performance for the ages – even by his standards.
In leading the Cavaliers to the monster comeback, James posted his first triple-double of the Playoffs, 17th of his postseason career – finishing with 41 points on 14-for-27 shooting, including 6-of-12 from long-range, adding a team-best 13 boards, game-high 12 assists, a steal and a block.
Along the way, he passed Kobe Bryant for 3rd on the NBA’s postseason all-time scoring list and Wes Unseld for 7th on the all-time rebounding list.
James – who joins the Big O as the only players in league Playoff history to have multiple 40-point triple-doubles – hasn’t lost a First Round contest since 2012, when it took him five games to knock out J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and the Knicks.
Opposite LeBron – although he’s being cross-checked by numerous Cavs, including J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert – is fellow All-Star Paul George, who looked exasperated at the postgame podium on Thursday night. He’s done everything he can: averaging 32.3 points, 9.3 boards and 7.7 assists per through the first three games.
And on Sunday, George – who’s now 7-15 against LeBron-led teams over his Playoff career – might need to do even more to keep his Pacers from being swept for the first time in franchise history.