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May 19, 2018

LeBron James

Kevin Love

Cleveland, Ohio: Game Three

Cavaliers - 116, Celtics - 86

Q. Kevin, Brad Stevens was talking about how you guys were just connected defensively all night. As a team, what are you doing to make it harder on Al Horford?
KEVIN LOVE: Well, I thought overall, across the board, we were just doing a better job of getting in the passing lanes, making it tough for them and, more than anything, just contesting shots. We didn't make any huge adjustments. We made a few minor adjustments that we saw after Game 1 and 2. We came home, looked at film and really executed. We liked our game plan. They just had too many open shots, too many easy looks, and they didn't feel us in Game 1 or 2. We feel like we did a lot better job with to that night, used the crowd to our advantage and came away with a big win.

Q. We've talked all year about you at the 4 versus the 5, but now you're going to play alongside Tristan in this series. For this series, why does that work?
KEVIN LOVE: I just think it's always worked with T-Thomp. He just brings such a great energy. That was another thing tonight: We brought a lot of energy out there. Just having a familiarity with Tristan and Bron and Swish [J.R. Smith], you can just feel a sense of pride in what we want to get done out there every single night. But playing the 4 has been my natural position since I came into this league, so there's just a comfort level there.

Q. LeBron, your defensive numbers tonight were your best of the postseason as the primary defender. What was your mindset about being more active defensively, and what made it easier for you tonight?
LeBRON JAMES: Just tried to put myself in position to help our team. I think tonight as a group, even when things broke down, we just covered for one another. We made them make extra passes. We made them make extra dribbles. We were flying around, and I just happened to be one of the guys on the floor that wanted to fly around as well.

Q. Why does that happen to you guys on certain nights like tonight and then you get other nights where it doesn't?
LeBRON JAMES: I don't know.

Q. Do you want to take a stab at answering?
KEVIN LOVE: I don't know, either.

Q. LeBron, how would you rate your passing as a skill compared to the rest of your game? And then if you'd indulge me, the left-handed pass you had to Larry Nance Jr., in the lane, the left-handed pass to Tristan Thompson in the lane and the time you drove baseline and wrapped around Tristan, can you rank those three?
LeBRON JAMES: I think my passing is up there with every other aspect of my game. It was something I kind of just knew I had when I first started playing the game of basketball, to be able to see things develop before they actually developed. Then it was on me to kind of put the ball on time, on target to my teammates ever since I was a kid, and I started playing at age 9.

To rate those -- first of all, with Tristan and Larry, being able to set the screen and get the man off my body for me to create some separation. The first left-handed pass to Larry, I was able to keep my defender on my back for a little bit. I saw their bigs step up just a little bit, and me having the ball in my left hand, I could pass with either hand so I was able to kind of shuffle a bounce pass to him for him to dunk it.

The second one to Tristan was going right. Tristan set a great screen, and Marcus [Morris] tried to steal for the ball so I was able to go behind my back to the left-hand side and then I saw [Aron] Baynes step out onto the floor so I was able to wrap that around him to Tristan.

And then on the third one, I rejected a screen-and-roll and Baynes stepped up again. I saw Marcus trailing me a little bit, so I saw I had the wrap-around pass because the other defender on the weak side didn't pull in on Tristan. I don't know. Seemed easy, right?

Q. Is one of the three more difficult than the others?
LeBRON JAMES: They're all pretty difficult. Don't try it at home. (Laughter).

Q. A lot was made the last couple games of how well their point guards played and how your guards struggled. To see George Hill and J.R. both get off to good starts tonight, how important was that to get you guys going?
LeBRON JAMES: It's very important for our guards to be aggressive. No matter if they are making shots or not, we want them to be aggressive. It just keeps the defense at bay. It allows me and Kevin to have more open lanes as well when those guys are being aggressive, looking for their shots. You saw that in G-Hill's mindset to start the game. He just had an aggressive mindset that if they're going to slide under his pick-and-rolls, he's going to shoot it. He gets a swing-swing, he's going to shoot it. He's going to attack. And the same for J.R. We always sit up here and talk about how much pressure me and Kev try to take off our teammates. Those guys took pressure off us tonight. Their aggression just settled us in and allowed us to play free as well.

Q. Kevin, can you add anything to that at all?
KEVIN LOVE: Yeah, I think as Bron mentioned, just their aggression. I think they shot 13 or 14 threes, 13 threes between the two of them tonight, and a lot of them were good looks. A number of them dropped for them. I think just overall, whether it was getting to the free-throw line, getting off to a good start on the defensive end, both of them were very solid and really picked us up. Just getting to our spots offensively, defensively, staying home, being solid, sticking to our schemes. Both those guys were huge for us tonight.

Q. LeBron, a very efficient scoring right for you, 27 points on just 12 shots, but what a healthy boxscore, and how related are those two functions: You only taking 12 shots and seeing everybody else just kind of flourish and everybody scoring the ball? And Kevin, could you speak to his ability to facilitate that coming forth of the whole team, and how dangerous a team are you when it looks like tonight?
LeBRON JAMES: Well, I think if you look at any boxscore throughout the postseason or throughout the regular season, if you're able to get four, five, six guys in double figures, most of the time that team is going to win. You look at the shot chart -- me with 12 and Kev with 12; G-Hill with 11 and even Jordan [Clarkson], his 18 minutes throwing up 11 attempts as well is just well-balanced. Obviously every game doesn't work out that way. We can sit up here and say why doesn't it happen like that every game, but it's just not how the game works every game. But tonight was good ingredients of that for us to be able to get everybody involved. Even Kyle [Korver], his shots in the second half, J.R.'s shots, everybody felt in good rhythm. It's my job when everybody is in a good rhythm to just make sure I get the ball exactly where my guys need it, where all they can think about is just shooting it and just trying to put it on time on target.

Q. Kevin, could you speak to his ability to facilitate that kind of production across the board?
KEVIN LOVE: Oh, he's the best in the game at facilitating. You see 12 assists tonight, but even in games where we struggled to have ball movement, we struggled to get the ball from side to side, which is something that we looked at in Games 1 and 2, he's still able to get it done. But as you mentioned, or as we mentioned after Game 2, they had six guys in double figures. I believe [Marcus] Smart was the guy off the bench for them that was in double figures after last game, and all five starters got up to double digits.

Tonight was definitely huge for us. You mentioned Kyle, he was 5-for-5 from the field tonight. Jordan Clarkson got a lot of good looks, got himself going, as Bron had mentioned. But we just tried to have a lot of movement out there, with guys like Larry Nance and Tristan trying to set the screens, get off the ball and find themselves underneath the hoop. And when they try to help on that, Bron always finds us on the outside. It's something that he's been great at his whole career, and he's finding us.

Q. Kevin, you've battled against Al Horford a number of times and you did it in Game 1. How would you characterize the way Tristan has played against him defensively in the last two games?
KEVIN LOVE: Tristan has always been great in stepping up and taking the challenge in any series. I think you've seen that here, just making minor adjustments, trying to make it tough for him and stepping up and playing the basketball we know that he's capable of. He might not always score the basketball, but he's going to get us extra possessions. He's going to make the hustle plays, and he's going to do a lot of stuff that might not necessarily show up in the boxscore. You've got to give a lot of credit to Tristan because Horford is really the one that makes him go. He can play a little bit of the point forward. He can do a lot of the intangibles that even for their team might not show up on the boxscore as well. But he did a great job on him tonight, and he's done a great job on him the last two games.

Q. When it's you and Tristan up front, it seems like you have a physicality edge in the series. You were outrebounded in Boston, but you controlled the glass tonight. How do things change for this team when you are able to kind of decisively win that rebounding battle?
KEVIN LOVE: I think it's huge. Just making it one-shot possessions on the defensive end. And on the offensive end just finding Tristan near the basket just opens up a lot, not only for Bron but for G-Hill and everybody coming in there and trying to make plays and play downhill because when we do that, when we play with pace, we're so much better.

For myself, just mixing up inside out. If they're going to switch on pick-and-rolls, just make sure I bury them on the inside. Tristan and I, we just try to set our level of play really high, our physicality very high, not only in games at home but also when we're on the road. But we felt like tonight we were a lot better.

Q. Kevin, your bounce pass to LeBron, does that show that things are really clicking between you two? And how satisfied were you when you saw the way he finished it?
KEVIN LOVE: Yeah, I mean, not many people can -- you didn't even take a dribble, did you? Didn't take a dribble. That's the one that's going to be on -- I don't know if it'll be a career highlight for him, but maybe it will be for me for the pass.

Bron, off the ball, he's always cutting and I'm always looking for them. So I just tried to give him a little bit of love back because he had, like I mentioned, those 12 assists tonight, and a couple of them were to me. It was a great play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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