Badly limping late in the game and into overtime, LeBron James created offense and defended Jeff Teague. When the game was over he collapsed onto the court surrounded by teammates. He was spent. He was also enough.
Down four with under two minutes of a game they were in the process of squandering, Tristan Thompson gave James just enough help. Offensive rebounds, a blocked shot, a tough finish in traffic. It wasn't much for the night. It was also enough. The Cleveland Cavaliers won in overtime over the Atlanta Hawks 114-11. They now lead the Eastern Conference Finals 3 games to none. They will have a chance Tuesday night to close out these Hawks and advance to the NBA Finals for just the second time in franchise history.
James' performance was herculean, it was epic. He hit a three pointer after spending a possession limping after Thompson pulled down a rebound and found him on the wing. James looked almost frustrated to have to field the ball. He caught it, and calmly made the shot as his defender flew by him into the first row. 37 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists. He started the game 0-10 from the field but was 14-27 afterwards. It was the most shots in one game he has taken since he scored 25 straight against the Pistons en route to the Cavs' first appearance in the Finals. His effort in this one approaches that level of total control over a game. He was far from perfect. He was enough.
J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timo Mozgov were solid in this game. The Atlanta Hawks, already suffering from injuries, lost Al Horford on a Flagrant 2 foul after an incident with Matthew Dellavedova. The Hawks were able to rally in the fourth quarter when Thompson picked up his fifth foul and went to the bench. Instead of opting for Mozgov, coach David Blatt inserted James Jones in at center. The Cavs missed a few threes and the Hawks took what looked to be a lead they'd hold onto.
But Tristan Thompson and LeBron James happened. We'll have more to come, of course.