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May 23, 2017

LeBron James

Boston, Massachusetts: Postgame

Cavaliers - 112, Celtics - 99.

Q. When you were on the bench with four fouls, Kyrie just went to another level. 33 points in 19 minutes I think it was when you had your fourth. What did he show you and the world tonight?
LeBRON JAMES: Nothing. Same thing I've been saying since I got here. I've been saying he's a special kid. He's a special talent. As the stakes get higher and higher, his game gets higher and higher, but it was nothing surprising for me. But he rose to the occasion, and he put the team on his back, and we definitely needed that effort from him. Like he said, he's been just kind of dictating the game and being a playmaker and things of that nature throughout the Playoffs or even throughout this series so far, but tonight, he showed why he's one of the best point guards in the league, and he commanded us to be better, especially in the second half.

Q. When the Celtics were switching on you in the fourth quarter, what were you seeing?
LeBRON JAMES: Just trying to be aggressive. Obviously I couldn't be as aggressive as in the first half because of the foul trouble, so if I'm on the floor I've got to be aggressive and try to make plays, help our team be successful and read the defense. I was able to still be aggressive and find two of our shooters for two threes, found Kev, found Swish [JR Smith], so it was just trying to read the game, the game in between the game, and it worked well for us.

Q. Fourth quarter it seemed like it all came back to you scoring the ball and shooting the ball over kind of a difficult stretch. Is that just kind of a thawing out thing, you're through that stretch, and return to the player, the shooter that you were the previous 10 games, or is it something you just kind of had to fight through?
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, my rhythm for the most part is broken when you -- I can't remember the last -- I don't think I've ever had four fouls in a game before in the first half, so my rhythm is kind of broken and you've got to figure out ways you can still help the team, and my teammates said be aggressive, be you. You got us to this point and continue to do that, so I just tried to find ways to get into the lane, get into transition, when they backed off shoot the jumper and felt very comfortable with it, so I was able to get back into a rhythm very fast.

Q. By the same token do you feel as a team that you've kind of recovered now that you've got to go back to Boston for Game 5?
LeBRON JAMES: At the end of the day, you play the game that's in front of you. We didn't take care of business in Game 3, they played well. Tonight they played well again, but we was able to play well, especially in the second half, and we defended. If we defend, then we're going to always give ourselves a good chance to win. We look forward to the next game. It's a difficult challenge because our preparation going into the series was going against a team with Isaiah, so now they're playing a lot differently now, so we're trying to figure out exactly what they're running and things of that nature, so it's been very difficult on us without IT on the floor, but now this is two games that we've been able to see them and we're going to get a better understanding. We should be a lot better in Game 5.

Q. I was going to ask about that exactly. Do you feel like the second half was evidence of you guys starting to understand exactly what it was they were trying to do without Isaiah now that he's not there?
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, like I say, we game planned -- because their series went to [Game] 7 we game planned for both teams, and they're a different team when IT is -- I won't say a different team, they run different things just because of IT being a huge piece of the puzzle for them offensively. So they had to kind of reshape, and that's the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach. You're able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It's been challenging for us to kind of -- plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we'll be better in Game 5.

Q. They kind of caught you in a momentum shift in the second half last game. Did they almost show you a little bit more in this one because you guys knew what was coming out?
LeBRON JAMES: No, I mean, listen, they're well-coached, and they've got guys that's always kind of been counted out throughout their career, so they play with a lot of pride. And then you add the green on their back and this is history, this is a franchise that you kind of no matter who's out on the floor, you have to play for that franchise and play with pride. You know, they're giving us everything that they have, and we're expecting it, and we want the challenge. It's the postseason. At the end of the day, you just want to win the game. It doesn't matter who you're going against or how you get the job done, you're just trying to figure it out, and I think we did that.

Q. In your career kind of looking back, have you ever seen a player get double and triple boxed on rebounding opportunities as much as Tristan has, and how big was Kevin's rebounding in addition to that just given the way that they are defending him on the glass?
LeBRON JAMES: Yeah, I mean, when you look at some of the greatest rebounders in our game, guys who create extra possessions, you've got to figure out a way to try to take him out, and not take him out like in a bad way, but how do you keep him off the glass, and they're doing a really good job the last couple games of putting two or three bodies on him. But when you do that, you allow our other frontcourt player who's been a monster rebounder his whole career to come up and do the thing that he did tonight, and we needed that. We needed the 17 rebounds from Kev, and it was huge for our team.

Q. You mentioned you've never had four fouls in a game. Have you ever missed a dunk like that in a game?
LeBRON JAMES: I have. I have. I think I missed one in Boston before. I've missed a couple drunks in my career. I think I've made more than I've missed though. Percentages are pretty good. (Laughter).

Q. When you came into the league, there was not a superstar on your team that you had to kind of manage with or manage your game with; what have you seen about the way Kyrie has either taken your example at some times or taken the lead other times?
LeBRON JAMES: When I came into the league or my first seven seasons in the NBA?

Q. Right, your first seven seasons, yeah, exactly.
LeBRON JAMES: I mean, the kid is special, and he basically was just waiting for an opportunity to be able to blossom, and I'm just happy and blessed that when I decided to come back that I was able to help him blossom, I guess, because he gets to play in games that he's always been built for. He just never had the opportunity because of the team at that point in time. With me coming back and we're getting Kev and making a trade for J.R. and T-Mo [Timofey Mozgov] and Shump and all the pieces and all the pieces started coming together and Double T [Tristan Thompson] gets better and Delly [Matthew Dellavedova] and all that, and in year 1, even though it wasn't the successful season we would have hoped for, it gave him some experience that he didn't have in his first -- I don't know what he had, four seasons before I got here, that he didn't have. But he was already built for it. His game was built for it, and I'm happy, like I said, to be able to, I guess, sit back with four fouls and see him do what he's always been built to do. He was born for these moments.

Q. How much did the defense help trigger that 40-point third quarter you guys as a team collectively on defense?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, in order to be successful, you have to defend. You have to defend. And especially versus a team like this who moves the ball, shares the ball, moves bodies, and they're very precise with their offensive sets. You have to defend, and it allows us to get to our best attribute at times and that's to get out on the open floor. I think that allowed us to outscore them by 17 in the third.

Q. The sense I got from Boston fans when I left there, they didn't really feel like they'd be coming back, that you guys would come back. How difficult will it be to close them out with a chance to go to The Finals again?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, it's all -- the close-out game is always the hardest, and also you're doing it, and Boston is going to make it even harder. We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2 to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend. We have to execute offensively. We have to have low turnovers, and we have to try to make them miss because some of those guys play a lot better at home. That's just how the game be played. But we'll play the game, and we'll see what happens.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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