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Cavs say they’re making LeBron James play “hero ball”

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Ahead of Game 3, Cleveland knows it has to give its star player more help.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Through two games against the Celtics, the Cavaliers are down 2-0 even after LeBron Jame posted a 40-point triple-double in Game 2.

As the series shifts back to Cleveland, James’ supporting cast know it needs to offer James — as well as Kevin Love — more help if they wants a chance to come back against Boston.

“No, we have to ramp it up. We’re playing too slow,” J.R. Smith said on Thursday after the Cavs’ practice. “We’re making Bron play hero ball, which is tough to do especially in the Eastern Conference Finals. We’ve gotta help him. And with that said, we have to give him an opportunity for us to make him feel confident to give us the ball so we can make the right plays. We gotta help him and he’s gotta help us.”

Tristan Thompson echoed Smith’s thoughts.

“I’ve never seen a game scored in the 40s unless it’s in the Big Ten with like Penn State, Illinois and Ohio State. So other guys have to contribute and other guys have to step up,” he said. “We all have to do it collectively. Of course, it’s a huge luxury having LeBron on our team. At the same time, we have to be ready to play and we have to do our job. If you’re shooters you have to make shots and if you have to finish around the rim then you have to finish around the rim. If you’re a rebounder, then whatever your job is on this team we need you to do it at a high level.”

Smith, after two strong series against the Pacers and Raptors, has struggled so far against the Celtics. In Game 2, he was 0-7 from the field and 0-4 from three.

“He’s not getting a lot of rhythm shots,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said about Smith. “They’re doing a good job getting into him. I think in transition, they are getting into him. He’s gotta find ways to to keep getting shots and being aggressive.”

Aggression is something Lue mentions often as a possible solution for what currently ails the Cavs. In the past, he’s said aggressive play is what he wants from Rodney Hood, another Cavs role player not giving the team enough. On Thursday, aggression is what he said he wanted from George Hill (who was 1-4 from the field in Game 2) and said being aggressive is what will help put the team’s role players in a better position to help James and Love.

In Game 2, James and Love were a combined 25-47 from the field. The rest of the team shot 12-33 overall with Thompson and Kyle Korver accounting for eight of those makes on a combined 14 shots. Take away their contributions and the Cavs’ role players finished 4-19.

“Make shots, that’s the only thing we can do,” Smith said. “Obviously, we can do more on the defensive side, but our main focus right now is to make shots when we get them. If we don’t have them, try to make the next best play. Right now Bron and Kev are working overly hard trying to carry us, and we just gotta step up and do our job.”