LeBron James hits playoff scoring milestone
Cavs star passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
When LeBron James has his jab-step, step-back jumper game going, there is no escape for opponents. Bad things are going to happen.
James didn’t have those weapons the first two times he played for a title, as a pup in Cleveland during his first Cavs tenure and then with the Miami Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.
But boy did he figure it out in 2012, when his Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. James was unstoppable in that series, burying mid-range jumpers and enough three-pointers to keep the Thunder honest. He repeated it the next year against the San Antonio Spurs on the way to another ring.
While that side of his game has come and gone since, the Raptors are facing this most frightening version of James. His jumper was falling in Game 1 and Game 2 was no different. James hit a couple of step-back shots on Serge Ibaka in the opening half on Wednesday and shook off a couple of Raptors to nail a momentum-stalling step-back trey in the third.
Eventually he secured the 25 points needed to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762 points) for second in career playoff scoring. James finished with 39 points, for 5,777 career playoff points. He trails only Michael Jordan (5,987). Kobe Bryant (5,640) and Shaquille O’Neal (5,250) round out the top five.
James should catch Jordan if the Cavs return to the Finals this season, though Jordan did it in far fewer games and averaged 33.3 points a game in the post-season. Jerry West averaged 29.1, but James sits third at 28.1 (before Game 2).
Before the game, Raptors coach Dwane Casey talked a little about James and his place amongst the greats.
“I’ve coached against the Magics, the Jordans, all those guys are freaks of nature. This guy is no different but, again, it’s a team game, there’s some other things you can do to help against him but he does some things extraordinary and that means we have to do our job extraordinary,” Casey had said.
That didn’t happen. The only thing extraordinary, was the play of James and his three-point making pals.