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Mike Shalin's Working Press: LeBron is tired, but you didn't hear him say that

May 24. 2018 8:10PM
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, guard JR Smith, and guard Jordan Clarkson sit on the bench during the fourth quarter of Boston's 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in game five of the Eastern conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)


Is The King dead?

Don’t count on it.

“He looked a little tired to me, yes,” coach Tyronn Lue said after the Celtics’ win Wednesday night.

Asked if he was concerned, Lue said, “No concerns. You’ve got to be ready to play now. No concerns.”

Of course there are concerns. LeBron James has been carrying this team on his bulky back all season — and playing a sixth straight game against the annoying Celtics group can’t be something for The King to be excited about.

But the Cavs will have their own crowd, and the fact Boston has won only one road game in these playoffs will shoot some adrenaline into James’ battered body and mind.

“I had my moments,” James said when asked about being tired. “I think everybody at this point is tired or worn down.” Later, he added, “I’m fine. I didn’t mention fatigue, (the media) did.”

Now, because of their 10-0 home record in the postseason, the Celtics need one win to make it to the Finals. One win. Tonight? Sure it can happen, and don’t sleep on the Celtics coming through and getting it done.

Somehow, though, the idea of a Sunday night game at TD Garden is very, very real. Coach Brad Stevens used only seven players in Game 5. Thursday, he said, “There is a lot that goes into it. I will leave it at that. But it has nothing to do with the guys who didn’t play.”

Some numbers

From our buddy/stat maven Dick Lipe Wednesday:

(Jayson) Tatum: Only rookie in the last 55 postseasons to have seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks in a playoff game … regardless of point total. Last Celtic to put up a line like Tatum had tonight was (Paul) Pierce against the Nets in 2002 (31 points, nine rebounds, four assists, five steals, two blocks).


(Last 50 years)

1. vs. Lakers, 4/29/69 .316

2. vs. Nets, 5/21/02 .344

3. vs. Pistons, 5/10/02 .346

4. vs. Lakers, 5/3/69 .365

5. vs. Cavs, Wednesday night .365


1. George Mikan, 1949, 97

2. Elgin Baylor, 1959, 87

3. Magic Johnson, 1980, 85

4. Jayson Tatum, 78

5. Jerry West, 1961, 77

6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1970, 74

James on Tatum prior to Game 5: “He’s a very, very, very good player already and he definitely at this pace can become a great player”

Al Horford deserved his spot on the second NBA All-Defensive team but there is no one more valuable to the Boston defense than Marcus Smart. Mike Breen, an ultimate play by play guy, nailed it when he said of Smart, “First team All-NBA grit.”


The long-suffering franchise not only ended its Christian Hackenberg disaster by shipping him to the Raiders, but the Jets also stepped to the front of the line in these eyes by coming out in protest on the NFL’s ludicrous and financially driven protest of protests Wednesday.

Stay in the locker room for the anthem? Fine. Take a knee? Fine of a different kind and the Jets chairman buying.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Charles Johnson said. “If somebody (on the Jets) takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

Good for him.

Agree or disagree with what the players did last season (and the latest thing they have to protest again is the tasing of the Milwaukee Bucks’ Sterling Brown), this is the United States and they have the right to do it. Yes, they work for corporations, but sports is NOT your typical business — and this ruling by a league that never gets it is out of bounds once again.

The NFL is made up of some 70 percent black players and they deserve a voice on what is going on in this country.

Gotta love the way they announced this as a “compromise.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr wasn’t impressed, saying, “It’s just typical of the NFL. They’re just playing to their fan base. Basically, just trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic. But that’s how the NFL has conducted their business.”

No Brady

The saga that has been the Patriots offseason has leaked into the voluntary workouts, with Tom Brady still missing (as Rob Gronkowski nears a new contract deal).

A statement by Brady? One piece, by’s Ryan Hannable, suggests Brady isn’t there because Jimmy Garappolo has moved on and there no longer a threat to TB12. Bob Kraft got involved. Bill Belichick won’t talk.

“I’ve been in communication with Tom. I think he’s very excited about the upcoming season,” Kraft said at the owners meeting in Atlanta. These are voluntary workouts. I heard he’s in great shape.”

Obviously, there is no way of knowing if Brady’s first OTA absence in eight years will hurt this predicted contender in 2018. But working with receivers, especially new ones, can’t really hurt.

J.D. adapts

It’s clear J.D. Martinez has not had what has far too often been a difficult transition into one of the big baseball markets. And talking to our pal Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal, he explained why.

“To me, I think sometimes people get caught up in the whole ‘big market,’ Red Sox-type of deal,” Martinez said. “You know, you’re center stage, all that crap. You see a lot of guys crash when they start believing that they’re more than just a baseball player. They start feeling like they’re celebrities, or something. You know what I mean?

“To me, I’m a baseball player. I’ll never try to think I’m anything else. I worry about what I can worry about. Whether the fans boo me or don’t, I don’t care. All I know is that I do my best every day. I work my butt off. I study, I prepare myself. I’ll hold (my preparation) against anybody in the league. I think I do that as well as anyone. And that’s all I can control. I really don’t get caught up in all of that ... noise.”


As Red Sox fans are crowing about Mookie Betts being the best player in the game, Mike Trout keeps adding to his history stuff out on the West Coast.

“It just makes you wonder how many levels there are, and how many levels exist on this guy,” said Angels GM Billy Eppler. “It’s unique. Very, very unique.”

And while we tend to think of Trout as some grizzled veteran, it should be noted he is 14 months older than Betts.

Finally made it

While the expansion Golden Knights are favorites to win the Stanley Cup in their incredible first season, Alex Ovechkin is finally in the finals — and he’s the key reason his Capitals are there. Ovie has re-made himself as a hockey player, going from a selfish goal scorer who took shifts off to a total package, all the while not losing his goal-scoring ability.

The Knights come into the Monday night opener having gone 12-3 in the playoffs and, get this, they have allowed 12 even-strength goals in 15 playoff games.

Good and bad

For the good, we give you Justin Verlander. Wednesday night, he pitched six innings to beat the Giants and is 6-2 with a 1.08 ERA on the season. In his last four starts, he has allowed three runs in 29 innings, as he looks to keep up with the rest of the rotation.

Through Wednesday, Gerrit Cole was second to Verlander with a 1.86 ERA, while teammate Charlie Morton was third at 1.94. The ’Stros yielded 126 runs in their first 50 games, the lowest total in the live-ball era, and their staff ERA was at an AL-best 2.42 — 1.12 earned runs per game better than the second-place Red Sox.

The bad? Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo homer in three at-bats as his Diamondbacks lost their seventh straight and 13th in the last 14.

“I’m not going to flip a table clear across the room,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I’ve seen managers do that. It definitely doesn’t have a very positive impact on the clubhouse.”

Goldschmidt raised his average to .200 and his OPS to .695 with his second homer in 21 games. But in those 21 games, he is 8-for-87 (.092) with three RBIs and he has three RBIs in 29 games.

Clemson scored an ACC Tournament-record 17 runs in the fourth inning of a 21-4 rout of Notre Dame Wednesday. Shortstop Logan Davidson, who last Thursday became the first Tiger ever to homer from both sides of the plate in a game, did it again — in the same inning in this one. It was Clemson’s first double-digit inning in 11 years.

This and that

The ACC will propose expanding the NCAA hoop field to 72, with two mini-fields making up the last eight. … Lou Lamoriello has taken over the Islanders, set to do what he does best, which is provide stability. … From Ken Rosenthal on Twitter: “Sunday, the @Red Sox shut out the Orioles, who got 13 hits and left 14 on base. @EliasSports confirms that three teams have been shut out with 15 hits, the last being the 1918 Braves. That team also holds the record for most runners left on base in a shutout: 19.” … The Red Sox welcomed Mike Lowell, Derek Lowe and Kevin Youkilis to the club’s hall of fame at a gala Thursday night. …

A final reminder I will be joining photog Steve Babineau to sign our Red Sox book “The Hometown Team” on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Manchester Barnes & Noble. Come see us

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is

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