The Cavs' loss can't be blamed on possible fatigue for James. "We have to understand that and come out and fight, and compete like hell". The Cavaliers came into the game knowing that if they won, they could close out the series on their home court the next game. Cleveland has been in three consecutive Finals while James has gone to seven in a row between the Cavs and Miami Heat.
Teams that win Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series win 83 percent of the time.
LeBron James made only three of 14 shots in a 120-88 defeat.
You can't put all this on James. J.R. Smith sank a floater to make it 63-50, and George Hill followed with a jumper of his own. Game 5 was the most poorly played game of the series by both teams to this point.
"I didn't think we played well tonight at all", said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue. Add another 16 playoff games (soon to be 17) and 649 minutes and you'll realize how astounding that, in the age of everything we know about rest being best for athletes, he's carried this team all the way to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
"We're looking forward to having an opportunity to force a Game 7", said James, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds but also had six turnovers. The Celtics, on the other hand, got a big 24 points out of Jayson Tatum.
And James appeared reluctant to even attempt to dominate in the paint, opting to initiate most of his offense from the perimeter.
It was a historic night for the Boston rookie, as he not only slipped past Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain to become only the sixth rookie in National Basketball Association history to score 300 postseason points, but he now just needs one more 20-point game to tie Milwaukee Bucks legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's rookie record of 10 in a postseason.
"I had my moments, but I think everyone at this point is exhausted, worn down or whatever the case may be".
But not everybody trains with former Navy SEALs to give him the most physically imposing physique in the game.
Not everybody spends a million and a half dollars a year to keep his body in shape.
James has played more minutes than any other player this postseason at 648.
Except, of course, if there's a Game 7 on Sunday in Boston. The Cavs were 3-1 at The Q against the Pacers in the first round, 2-0 against Toronto in the conference semifinals and 2-0 so far against the Celtics.
There have been six 40-point games in this postseason alone, including two earlier this series.
James turned the ball over only three times when the Cavaliers rolled the Celtics, 116-86, in Game 3. Those two factors allowed the Celtics to outscore the Cavs 18-2 in transition and ultimately decided the game.
As for how he felt physically, James said, "I had my moments".
"No, not at all, because I've never went to any season saying, 'OK, let's have a Finals streak, '" he said. "I was still trying to make plays", he said. "Definitely going back to Cleveland on Friday, we had to take care of business, and that's what we did". The Celtics played bad shooting just 36.5% from the field.
And this squad is without the second-best player from Cleveland's previous championship runs, Kyrie Irving.
When it comes to James, there is no middle ground: You either hate LeBron James or you love him.