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|The Celtics expected to see a different LeBron James in Cleveland after the Cavaliers fell into a 2-0 hole to open the Eastern Conference finals.
Two games and back-to-back wins later Authentic Adam Boqvist Jersey , James has reminded everyone exactly why he’s been to seven straight NBA Finals.
Boston will be back in the embrace of its raucous fans at TD Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday. But a team that has thrived on youth this postseason suddenly looks disoriented without a go-to player and opposite a more veteran squad that has found a new attitude thanks to the fuel being provided by its biggest star.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said all you can do against James is ”make it as hard as you can.”
”LeBron is the best player of this generation and he’s just maintained that because of his commitment to improvement,” Stevens said. ”He’s always been an unbelievable physical player. He’s always been a savvy player. And he’s always had, just like the natural instincts to make the right basketball play along with his tremendous skill set.”
While the Cavs are certainly feeling rejuvenated behind the play of James, coach Tyronn Lue said it hasn’t changed their sense of urgency.
”We still gotta play,” Lue said. ”We have veteran guys who have been there and know what it takes, but this is a young team, a good team that’s playing at home so experience is not going to be a factor. We have to come in there and have the same mentality that we had in Game 3 and 4.”
Two games ago, the numbers seemed all on the Celtics’ side.
They had moved to 9-0 at home during these playoffs and taken 2-0 series lead, which has been a magic number for a franchise yet to surrender such an advantage during its storied history (37-0). Over the last 96 minutes, Boston has been outscored by 39 points, has dropped to 1-6 on the road and is suddenly facing a must-win game to maintain home-court advantage.
Stevens said at the start of the playoffs that he believed there was value in the greenness of a young group that had several players getting their first taste of postseason basketball. He was proven right with Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum all thriving as first-time postseason starters.
Their success had the cumulative effect of masking the absences of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Now, the lack of an alpha like Irving capable of creating his own shot is sticking out with every 40-point game James produces.
Al Horford, Boston’s only healthy All-Star http://www.chiefsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-breeland-speaks-jersey , was never a dominant scorer, but more of a facilitator who worked well in a finely tuned system.
Horford started off the series strong but his scoring and assist numbers have declined over the last two games.
Lue’s move to reinsert Tristan Thompson back into the starting lineup in Game 2 is a huge reason.
Thompson has not only helped things move better on the offensive end for Cleveland , he’s combined with Larry Nance to make things difficult on Horford. Horford had just four shots and seven points in 30 minutes in Game 3. He scored 15 points in Game 4 but was just 5-of-13 from the field with one assist.
If the Celtics are going to get back to the by-committee style that got them here, it must begin with his leadership. To that end, Horford said they’ll focus on correcting their issues, but also won’t dwell on them.
”As a group, we’re excited to be back, going back home,” he said. ”Obviously we understand the challenge of it. We can’t think about the past. We just have to worry about this opportunity. We have a Game 5 at home, and we have to make the most of it.”
Cleveland is hoping James’ once quiet supporting cast continues its surge in Boston.
Kevin Love just missed his third straight double-double in Game 4 and sharpshooters JR Smith and Kyle Korver were 12 of 19 from the 3-point line in Games 3 and 4.
Korver’s efforts have stood out.
At 37 years old he was all over the court scoring in Game 4, diving for loose balls and collecting three blocks. While he anticipated being sore from all the activity, Korver said playing ”fun basketball” is still propelling a guy looking for his first ring after appearing in 124 playoff games for five different teams during his 15-year career.
”There’s not many of us `03 class guys still around,” James said of Korver. ”I feel like we’re just cut from a different cloth because we’ve been around for so long. We have this work ethic and you see him every day putting in the work, putting his mind Baker Mayfield Jersey Elite , his body into it. It’s not about his age.”
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Independence, Ohio contributed to this report.
In the soundstage where Johnny Carson and Jay Leno spent four decades filming ”The Tonight Show,” a former Washington State computer science student named Seagull is pursuing a South Korean teenager with a very big gun.
Their characters’ exploits inside ”Overwatch,” the wildly popular multiplayer game not yet 2 years old, flicker above their heads on an enormous high-definition screen. Hundreds of mostly millennial fans in the renamed, sold-out Blizzard Arena put down their Doritos and roar for the combat between these six-player teams, eventually rising in ecstasy when the Dallas Fuel earn an unexpected point against the powerhouse Seoul Dynasty.
Here’s the new Johnny. He plays video games for a minimum $50,000 salary, health benefits, a retirement savings plan and a chunk of $3.5 million in prize money.
Esports history was made Wednesday night with the debut of the Overwatch League, the first attempt to present elite computer gaming within a traditional North American sports structure comparable to the NBA or NFL. The league’s 12 franchises represent cities from Shanghai to London, and they build teamwork and stress player development while competing on a weekly schedule stretching into summer.
If the esports industry is still in its adolescence, this well-funded venture is a significant milestone in its maturation. The Overwatch League is about to find out whether fans will grow along with it.
”It’s a new frontier,” said Ari Segal Alex Cappa Color Rush Jersey , president and chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Valiant. ”It is the biggest, boldest bet in sports and entertainment maybe since the NFL and AFL merged. Maybe since baseball introduced the designated hitter. I don’t even know what it stacks up against, because it is so different.”
Segal had a career as a hockey executive before he moved into esports last year. He is one of many seasoned professionals from traditional sports and business who couldn’t resist the opportunity to shape the future of professional gaming, which has expanded with all the cohesion of a pipe bomb.
Shortly after Blizzard Entertainment published this hero-based, first-person PC shooter to acclaim in 2016, the game developer announced plans for a league backed by deep-pocketed investors ranging from NFL owners Stan Kroenke and Robert Kraft to current giants of the esports scene.
They might not all know their way around a mouse, but they know a growing industry when they see it.
”I come from traditional sports, and from the outside, it seemed like esports had grown up as this exciting, massive, organic, somewhat unstructured ecosystem that benefited from that fact, but was also held back by it,” said Pete Vlastelica DJ Moore Color Rush Jersey , president and CEO of Major League Gaming, which operates the league for Blizzard’s parent company.
”It felt to me a lot like boxing,” added Vlastelica, a former executive at Fox Sports. ”Anybody can create a circuit. Anybody be a trainer. Anybody can sign a fighter. Anybody can win a belt. But what’s the belt? I think boxing suffers from an ambiguity about whether any particular competition means anything, and it felt like that was really similar in esports.”
The Overwatch League aims to end that ambiguity with traditional sports touchstones, and it made sense to the luminaries from sports, tech and business who dominate the list of investors.
Kroenke, the billionaire owner of Arsenal and the Los Angeles Rams, also owns the Los Angeles Gladiators, who plan to be based within the vast entertainment complex around his Inglewood football stadium after it is completed in 2020. The Boston Uprising are owned by Kraft’s investment group, and they might end up based in Foxborough, Massachusetts, to share some training facilities with the New England Patriots.
The San Francisco Shock’s investor group includes Jennifer Lopez, Shaquille O’Neal and Marshawn Lynch. The Philadelphia Fusion are owned by Comcast Spectacor http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-daryl-worley-jersey , and the New York Excelsior are the property of a venture capital fund sponsored by the Wilpon family of New York Mets fame.
Many of the Overwatch League’s owners might not be gamers, but they understand the visceral importance of going to a good event. League commissioner Nate Nanzer is confident it will eventually harness income from ticket sales and concessions and other areas that haven’t meant much in esports so far.
”Why do people go to a Dodger game? You go because it’s more fun to sit with 40,000 other fans and cheer for a home run than it is to do it at home,” Nanzer said. ”Video games are so incredibly mainstream right now. It’s such a big part of our fans’ lives. When people play `Overwatch,’ they play a lot of `Overwatch.’ It’s a special moment to go share that with people who have the same passion as you.”
Although the geographical specificity of the teams is an important part of their future business plans, those home cities are largely theoretical at this point.
For this season and the near future, every team will live in the Los Angeles area and play all its matches in Burbank. Nanzer said the logistics of staging the competition around the globe were too enormous to be solved immediately.
That’s not the only geographical dissonance: The Overwatch League’s only ”European” team, the London Spitfire, are owned by an American esports organization, and its roster consists entirely of South Korean players living in Los Angeles.
But the Overwatch League has bought itself time to find its footing. The league has sponsorship deals with blue-chip companies including HP Inc. and Intel Corp., an.