LeBron James was relaxed [url=http://www.authenticsbuffalobills.com/cheap-josh-allen-jersey]Josh Allen Color Rush Jersey[/url] , reflective and even resigned to his fate.
The end of the series, season and maybe his second stint in Cleveland, are near.
The Golden State Warriors have made his eighth straight NBA Finals – and their seasonal rivalry with the Cavaliers – very one-sided.
Still weary and wrestling with emotions after losing Game 3 on Wednesday night, when Kevin Durant scored 43 points and shot the Warriors within one win of their third title in four years, James pointed out Thursday what has become terrifyingly obvious.
The Warriors are at another level. And may be for a while.
”Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth,” James said before rattling off Golden State’s embarrassment of riches.
”Kevin Durant,” he said. ”You’ve got two guys with MVPs on their team. And then you’ve got a guy in Klay (Thompson) who could easily be on a team and carry a team, scored 40 in a quarter before. And then you have Draymond (Green), who is arguably one of the best defenders and minds we have in our game. So you have that crew.
”Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench (Andre Iguodala), a No. 1 pick in (Shawn) Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.”
Too much, it seems, for these Cavs.
James wasn’t making excuses for Cleveland’s postseason pickle because if not for a reversed official’s call or J.R. Smith’s brain-lock in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 1 or Durant’s brilliance in Game 3, the Cavs could be leading the series.
The three-time champion, though, was being open and honest about the Cavs’ chances to become the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.
To this point, 131 have tried, and 131 have failed.
”We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games,” said James, who had 33 points and his 10th Finals triple-double in Game 3. ”So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can’t reach for it but you’ve got to dive for it?”
Those were today’s relevant questions. Tomorrow, they’ll be different ones if the Warriors, who have dealt with adversity all season, sweep the Cavs.
James is headed toward free agency and then where: Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Houston?
Or will he decide it’s too painful to part again with Cleveland, his basketball home for 11 seasons and just up the highway from his actual home in Akron?
The 33-year-old plans to consider everything once the season ends, but he offered some clues about what he’ll consider before making his next move [url=http://www.officialbluejackets.com/authentic-adidas-mark-letestu-jersey]Youth Mark Letestu Jersey[/url] , a decision that will dwarf any other NBA news in July. James also laid out a potential blueprint for the Cavs to follow if they want to keep him.
Bottom line: James needs better, smarter teammates.
No player in the league understands the current climate better than James, who formed a super-team in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and won two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland and joining forces with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Cavs’ reign lasted only one year, destroyed by Durant’s shocking departure from Oklahoma City for the 73-win Warriors, a team he couldn’t beat but was glad to join.
James said his decision to bolt from the Cavs the first time was simple.
”I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn’t succeed getting past a Boston, getting past the San Antonios of the league or whatever the case may be,” he said.
But beyond the talent disparity, James said the key to winning a championship is ”you’ve got to be very cerebral too.”
James then explained what it takes to be the last team standing, and in the process seemed to take a swipe at unnamed current and former teammates.
”So now everyone is trying to figure that out,” he said. ”How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship? That’s what GMs and presidents and certain players, it’s not every player. Every player does not want to – sad to say – but every player doesn’t want to compete for a championship and be in a position where every possession is pressure.”
Months of weight will lifted off him once the Warriors, who haven’t lost four straight games since 2013, are crowned again.
This series has been a painful reminder to James that the great teams have more than one king.
”When you make mistakes they make you pay,” he said, ”because they’re already more talented than you are but they also have the minds behind it, too, and they also have the championship DNA.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars heard the chatter, read the tweets and Instagram posts. And they got a little confused.
Why were the Pittsburgh Steelers talking about the New England Patriots? Didn’t they have to face the Jaguars first before reaching a rematch with the Super Bowl champions?
”I don’t know if they misread the schedule or didn’t play us this week, but they didn’t acknowledge us at all,” Jacksonville linebacker Myles Jack said. ”And we didn’t take that too kindly.”
Not at all. That shouldn’t be a problem going forward.
The Jaguars, yes the Jaguars, have the NFL’s full attention now. A trip to Foxborough on the horizon, too.
Dominant at the start and resilient at the finish, Jacksonville stunned the Steelers 45-42 on Sunday to advance to the AFC title game for the third time in franchise history and maybe, finally, earn a bit of respect.
Leonard Fournette ran for 109 yards and three scores . Embattled quarterback Blake Bortles added 214 yards passing and a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown as the third-seeded Jaguars (12-6) beat the second-seeded Steelers (13-4) at Heinz Field for the second time in three months.
The victory in October served notice Jacksonville was ready to put a decade of losing firmly behind. This one sent an even bigger message: overlook the Jaguars at your own peril [url=http://www.officialhockeyrangersshop.com/authentic-adidas-mats-zuccarello-jersey]Adidas Mats Zuccarello Jersey[/url] , something Pittsburgh appeared to do in the run-up. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted at facing the Patriots twice back in December. Running back Le’Veon Bell posted on Twitter about the pair of “round 2s” the Steelers will face in coming weeks.
Turns out, one rematch is all the Steelers will get.
”We knew we had this team’s number,” Jacksonville safety Barry Church said. ”All we did was feed on the fuel that everybody was providing, the media, everybody was talking about how they’re going to run through us, it’s not going to be like last (time). Blake Bortles this. Blake Bortles that. all he did was dominate their defense.”
A week removed from an ugly performance in a wild-card round win over Buffalo in which he passed for 87 yards and struggled with the easiest of throws, Bortles went 14 of 26 for a touchdown without an interception. He ran for 35 more and wasn’t sacked by a defense that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 55 during the season. Jacksonville’s 45 points tied the most ever allowed by the Steelers in the playoffs.
Not bad for an offense that at times simply appeared along for the ride as the NFL’s top defense carried the load.
”Blake Bortles has always been criticized,” Fournette said. ”It is different now. He has guys that have his back, especially me.”
Certainly looked it as Fournette scored two first-quarter touchdowns. The Jaguars built a 21-point lead and responded whenever the Steelers rallied to get within one score.
”The guys played with confidence all day long,” Bortles said. ”Obviously, what they have on their side of the ball, it’s a good team. We know they got a good offense. We knew we were going to have to be efficient, hold on to the ball for a little bit, so we did it.”
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but was also intercepted once and had a fumble returned for a score. All-Pro Antonio Brown caught seven passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a left calf injury. Bell had 155 yards of total offense and two scores.
But Pittsburgh’s vaunted ”Killer Bs” couldn’t keep pace with Jacksonville, one of four NFL franchises to never make the Super Bowl.
”It’s disheartening,” Brown said. ”I thought we had the right group of guys.”
The Jaguars dominated the Steelers on Oct. 8, winning by three touchdowns in a performance so overwhelming Roethlisberger only half-jokingly wondered aloud whether he still had ”it’ after throwing a career-high five picks.
Roethlisberger and his teammates left little doubt they hoped for a rematch, though Jacksonville cornerback A.J. Bouye cautioned Pittsburgh to be careful what it wished for. The Jaguars hardly appeared intimidated by the 18-degree chill or trying to earn their first road playoff win in a decade.
”I’m sure there will still be tons of people that are going to disapprove and talk negative or hate or do whatever they want,” Bortles said. ”But we get to keep playing and we get an opportunity to play in Foxborough next week for another week. Just honored to be able to do this especially with this group of guys.”
”It’s been an awesome year. Just want to keep it going.”
FOURTH AND WOE
Pittsburgh rolled up 545 yards of offense, but it’s 2 yards the Steelers didn’t get that helped send them into an offseason filled with questions.
Twice Pittsburgh had fourth-and-1 in Jacksonville territory. Twice the Steelers did something other than have the 6-foot-5 Roethlisberger sneak. Pittsburgh ran wide in the first quarter and Bell was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. The Jaguars responded immediately by going 75 yards in 11 plays, the final one a 4-yard sprint by T.J. Yeldon that put them up 21-0.
The Steelers were down a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and had fourth-and-inches at the Jacksonville 39. Roethlisberger checked at the line of scrimmage, faked a handoff to Bell and instead threw incomplete to diving rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster .
”It’s been a while since I’ve run a quarterback sneak, I’m for it,” said Roethlisberger, who added he wi