BOSTON, United States, May 23 – Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue refused to point the finger of blame at LeBron James on Monday, a day after a woeful performance from the NBA star gave the Boston Celtics a postseason lifeline.
Cleveland had appeared to be cruising towards a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals after romping to victory in the opening two games of the best-of-seven series.
But James’s miserable outing allowed the Celtics to snatch a 111-108 victory which puts them back in the series at 2-1.
James’s performance was the major talking point after Sunday’s defeat, with the Cavs star finishing with just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
Lue however shrugged off the off night on Monday as he prepared his team for Tuesday’s Game 4 in Cleveland.
“No blame. We’re all to blame,” Lue said Monday of James’s display.
“We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he’s got to have a bad game sooner or later.
“He’s human. He didn’t shoot the ball well. It wasn’t his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love, 28 points) and Kyrie (Irving, 29 points) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That’s no excuse.”
James’s no-show was all the more baffling considering he had amassed 68 points in the first two games of the series.
More alarmingly, James was unable to conjure one of his trademark rallies in the fourth quarter as the Celtics began to sense a vital win.
James took just three shots in the fourth quarter and missed all of them.
Cavaliers teammate J.R. Smith backed James to come good in Game 4.
“It’s not enough for him. For what he does, what he brings, it’s not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expect him to be better in Game 4.”
Lue also believes Sunday’s game was a blip.
“A game like that just happens,” Lue said. “You move on and hopefully be better the next game. It’s not something we’re going to hang our head on. But we definitely understand that this (Boston) team is not going to quit, they’re going to fight, they’re going to compete.”