Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

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Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

The Warriors are the greatest collection of National Basketball Association talent in the modern era, and that's no small statement, considering Tim Duncan and David Robinson played together in San Antonio and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh became Miami's Big Three.

Before the game was over, James had broken the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list - racking up a career postseason total of 5,995 points and bumping His Airness Michael Jordan down to No. 2.

Cleveland Cavaliers have reached their third NBA Finals in a row, after winning the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston Celtics.

For the first time in his 14-year career - more than 1,200 games played in the regular season and playoffs combined - James picked up four first-half fouls, sending him to the bench midway through the second quarter with the Cavs down by double digits.

Cleveland jumped to a quick 14-5 lead and were up by 43-27 after the first quarter - posting a franchise record for points in a quarter of a playoff game. The Celtics now realize that if they stick to their game on both ends, they will have an opportunity to go on that one late run that can win a game.

"I'm going to be honest", James told reporters in Boston on Thursday night, "I'm not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State".

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) looks to drive on Boston Celtics' Terry Rozier (12) during the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Cleveland.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue was quoted earlier this week saying he thought Boston's offense was "harder to defend" than Golden State's. They'll meet for the third straight time in the NBA Finals beginning June 1.

Stations Casino opened odds on a Cavs-Warriors Finals on Wednesday at Golden State -220/Cleveland 180, with $10,000 limits. "Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning because he had like a little bug, really lethargic, had no energy. I can't lie", Durant said, when comparing the 2012 Finals trip to this one. "We feel like we should be here, and we feel like we should be a championship-contending team".

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have been rolling as well, sweeping the Pacers and Raptors before dominating the Celtics in five games.

Then, things nearly got even worse toward the end of the third quarter when Kyrie Irving twisted his ankle while driving to the basket.

James, arguably the premier player in the game, leads a Cavs side that features the sublime talents of Australian-born, but U.S. loyal, point guard Irving and sharpshooting big man Love. They finished 19 of 41 Thursday.

Boston lost All-Star Isaiah Thomas for the remainder of the postseason to a hip injury in Game 2, forcing coach Brad Stevens to shuffle his lineup and rotations in Games 3 and 4. He drew within one of Jordan on a thunderous third-quarter dunk, then passed his childhood idol shortly afterward on a three-pointer. Does he think this Celtics team has what it takes to dethrone the King next season?

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