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It’s alright, the Cavs were saved by LeBron

We have that and more in Thursday’s NBA newsletter.

NBA: Playoffs-Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It’s nothing new for LeBron James to lead the Cavaliers to victory by giving them everything he can possibly give them. James played 82 games this season and was the only dude in the league to exceed 3,000 regular-season minutes. He finished No. 1 in total points, No. 11 in total rebounds, and No. 2 in total assists. This is normal: James goes nuts, the Cavaliers (and the Heat before them, and the pre-Decision Cavaliers before them) win most of the time.

What’s new is James giving his team everything’s he got and the team absolutely needing every little bit to survive in the first round.

Cleveland beat the Pacers 100-97 on Wednesday as James finished with 46-12-5, shooting a ridiculous 17-of-24 from the floor. That evened the series 1-1 as it moves to Indiana for the next two. Consider that: James dropped 46 points on less than 30 shooting possessions (including free throws), and the Cavs were still four points away from going down 0-2 at home in the first round.

These are not the Cavaliers we are accustomed to experiencing.

In fact, who knows if James would have been able to lead Cleveland to its 22-4 start in Game 2 had Victor Oladipo been forced out after being called for two fouls in the first 62 seconds. Dipo ended up scoring 22 in 28 minutes and was a +11 on the game. He and Darren Collison led a furious comeback attempt in the second half that came just short.

If Cleveland needs James to do this to beat Indiana, even a superhuman like him is going to run out of juice before the NBA Finals, which is where you know the team (and James) feels like the Cavs belong. That cannot be a win that makes anyone in Cleveland feel good, even in awe of James’ wonder.

Wednesday’s Scores

Cavaliers 100, Pacers 97
Series tied 1-1
Recaps: Fear The Sword | Indy Cornrows

Jazz 102, Thunder 95
Series tied 1-1
Recaps: SLC Dunk | Welcome To Loud City

Rockets 102, Timberwolves 82
Houston leads 2-0
Recaps: The Dream Shake | Canis Hoopus

Thursday’s Schedule

Sixers at Heat, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
Series tied 1-1

Blazers at Pelicans, 9 p.m. ET, NBA TV
New Orleans leads 2-0

Warriors at Spurs, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Golden State leads 2-0

Links on Links on Links

Rest in peace, Erin Popovich. The Spurs coach’s wife of four decades had been sick for some time, and passed away early Wednesday. Our deepest condolences to Pop and the Spurs’ organization.

The Rockets blew the doors off of the Wolves, and really Houston wasn’t even at maximum efficiency. We need to start a conversation about Karl-Anthony Towns. Just nine shots in Game 2. This is just about a trend!

Donovan Mitchell was absolutely electric late as the Jazz mounted a comeback to beat the Thunder. Utah now goes home with a split and a chance, if they can hold home court, to ramp up the pressure on OKC. It was hard to watch the Thunder offense down the stretch. That much talent should not have that much trouble scoring, even against an elite defense.

Paul Flannery answers the question everyone (including Eric Bledsoe) is asking: who is Terry Rozier?

I wrote about why the Blazers are on the precipice of doom. It’s going to be quite a scene at the [checks notes] Smoothie King Center for Game 3.

Eight NBA Draft decisions that will make or break the next college basketball season.

Nate McMillan was so furious at a non-call that he slipped and fell on the sidelines. Been there, brother.

The film sessions that turned Mitchell into a go-to scorer as a rookie.

Someone in San Antonio wants Manu Ginobili to come back one more year. Wait, wait, wait ... everyone in San Antonio and everywhere wants Ginobili to come back. Someone in San Antonio just wants it enough to put up a billboard to that effect.

How Miami’s defense turned the tide in Game 2 against the Sixers. This might be my favorite series in the first round in terms of adjustments.

Kristian Winfield argues that the Bucks should bench Eric Bledsoe for Malcolm Brogdon. Personally, I think the Bucks should be playing Brandon Jennings 36 minutes. I mean, why not? Bucks in six.

Why Tristan Thompson finds himself on the bench. Dude has played two minutes in the series, and had a full-on DNP CD on Wednesday!

More buddy cop DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry fun at their podium appearance Tuesday.

Kenny Smith is getting wild with the technology out here.

In appreciation of Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets’ defensive mastermind.

Kawhi Leonard as Bartleby the Scrivener.

Drake has been very vocal in trashing the Wizards.

Be excellent to each other.