LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were pushed to the very limit. They worked themselves into exhaustion. They gave it their all several rounds earlier than they intended. But in the end, they had enough to defeat the Indiana Pacers, 105-101, in Game 7 to advance to the second round.
LeBron finished the game with 45 points, his ninth career 40-point playoff game. No two were bigger than these to hold off Indiana for the final time.
Thirty-eight of those James came in the first three quarters. That was before he left the game to deal with a familiar issue: cramping. As he did in the 2012 and 2014 Finals, James needed to leave the game because his body was cramping up. These weren’t as bad as the ones he experienced in 2014, but they were rough enough to hold James out for the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter.
But instead of folding without their megastar, the Cavaliers thrived. Kevin Love finally came alive with a couple threes, and Cleveland pushed the lead to 10 before James returned. They improbably outscored Indiana by eight points with …….