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Death, taxes, and LeBron James in a Game 7

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

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Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Seven Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It was hardly a surprise that LeBron James had a huge Game 7 for the Cavaliers on Sunday: he’d had big numbers all series long, and he has traditionally performed especially well in Game 7s. That doesn’t make his performance any less impressive. He led Cleveland past the frisky Pacers with 45 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in the Cavs’ four-point win.

What was perhaps most notable about Cleveland’s Game 7 — and what is most important heading into a second-round series against the Raptors — is that the other main contributors got uncorked. Tristan Thompson got a start and put up 15 and 10 in response. George Hill played a solid control game, especially when James had to sit with cramps. And Kevin Love hit four threes.

Major kudos to Nate McMillan and the Pacers for coming a few breaks from beating James and the Cavs in the first round. The fact that Victor Oladipo had some performative no-days-off vibes going 16 minutes after the game is a good sign. James showed respect for Oladipo after the game.

Game 1 of Cavaliers-Raptors is Tuesday.

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Sunday’s Scores

Cavaliers 105, Pacers 101
Cleveland wins 4-3
Recaps: Fear The Sword | Indy Cornrows

Rockets 110, Jazz 96
Houston leads 1-0
Recaps: The Dream Shake | SLC Dunk

Monday’s Schedule

Sixers at Celtics, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Series tied 0-0

Links on Links on Links

The Rockets were just a little better than the Jazz in every piece of the game, and that added up to a convincing 110-96 Game 1 victory for Houston. Our long-held fears about the West’s second round being uncompetitive has borne out in the first game of each series. James Harden had 41.

Respect what the Pacers did.

Is it wrong that my immediate reaction to this Cavs fan’s sign was to look up whether the Lakers had retired No. 23 yet? (They have not.)

Phenomenal look at Al Horford’s impact on the young Celtics from (who else?) Paul Flannery.

A comparison of the Celtics’ and Sixers’ rebuilds. A reminder that Boston-Philly is one of the traditional great NBA rivalries. An appreciation of Ersan Ilyasova’s fit.

Steve Kerr is getting more flexible with his playoff rotations.

New York Times profile of the one and only Doris Burke. There was a conversation about how ridiculous it was that Burke worked the sidelines during Game 7 on Sunday instead of being in the analyst’s chair. Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy had the call with Mike Breen. That’s ABC/ESPN’s top crew. You can hate it all you want, but ABC/ESPN isn’t going to swap or ditch its top crew in the middle of the playoffs. Really, Burke should have been the analyst for the Rockets-Jazz game. Hubie Brown was on the call instead. This may be sacrilege, it may be too spicy for a Monday, but: Brown is not as insightful or perceptive as Burke at this point. Free DoBu.

You need a subscription, but Marcus Thompson on how Draymond Green prepares is fantastic.

James Herbert on how the Thunder can build around Russell Westbrook again.

Comparing various Lakers to various Avengers.

And finally: your MVP pick could never.

Be excellent to each other.