Suns sign Duane Washington Jr. to two-way contract

The Phoenix Suns have signed free agent guard Duane Washington Jr., the team announced Wednesday.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, it’s a two-way contract. 

The 22-year-old went undrafted in the 2021 draft out of Ohio State and signed a two-way contract with the Pacers, which was converted to a standard contract in April.

Indiana would waive Washington in July.

Last season, Washington averaged 9.9 points on 40.5% shooting from the field, 37.7% from three-point range, and 75.4% from the free throw line in 48 games with Indiana. Among qualified NBA rookies, he ranked 12th in points per game, third in three-point percentage, and ninth with 81 made three-pointers. 

He set a Pacers rookie record by making seven three-pointers at New Orleans on Jan. 24. He also appeared in 11 games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League last season, averaging 19.5 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds.

Washington will have an opportunity to compete for the backup point guard spot behind Chris Paul in Phoenix.

Cavs’ Garland, Mobley shine in Indiana

On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers began a three-game road trip in Indiana against the Pacers.

Cleveland got a big night from Darius Garland, who had a career-high 41 points, including the game-winning free throws with 14 seconds left as the Cavs defeated the Pacers 127-124 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The Cavs(38-27) have won two straight, while Indiana(22-45) has dropped three in a row.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Pacers.

The Great for the Cavs:

Garland!: Darius Garland was just ridiculous. The Gary, Indiana native, had 21 of his career-high 41 points in the fourth quarter to go along with 13 assists, five rebounds, and two steals. The last Cavs player to have 40-plus points and 10-plus assists in a game was, of course, LeBron James(2018).

The All-Star carried the Cavs in the fourth. With just under a minute to go, and the Cavs trailing 122-120, Garland’s driving layup tied things up, and he made the game-winning free throws.

What a night for Garland, who finished with 31 points in the second half.

Evan Mobley: No Jarrett Allen, no problem. Rookie Evan Mobley filled in at the center spot and recorded his second straight 20 and 10 double-double as he had 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and a career-high five steals. He also had a big tip-in late in the contest to tie the game at 124 with 33.6 seconds left. Mobley did it all for the Cavs Tuesday night.

-Lauri Markkanen had a strong game for the Cavs. He had 21 points and five rebounds. This was Markkanen’s second consecutive 20-plus point game.

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed 98-90, entering the fourth quarter. However, they got it done in the fourth, especially Garland(7-10 FG). As a whole, the Cavs shot 59% from the floor. They outscored the Pacers 37-26 in the quarter.

Lamar Stevens: He made two big defensive plays down the stretch. With the game tied at 124, Stevens made a big block on Malcolm Brogdon’s layup attempt, which was retrieved by Mobley, who gave it off to Garland, who was fouled and hit the game-winning free throws.

The next possession, Dean Wade had a deflection, which Stevens grabbed. Ultimately, Stevens won the “Junkyard Dog Award” for his defense late in the game. He finished with nine points.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Defense: Despite the win and Stevens’ big plays on defense, Cleveland did not have their best defensive performance Tuesday night. They allowed the Pacers to score 124 points in regulation, and Indiana shot 54% from the floor, including 50%(16/32) from downtown. Without Allen and Caris LeVert, Cleveland will need their defense. They did create 18 turnovers to their credit, which led to 23 points for the Cavs.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs needed this game. They had to win, especially with back-to-back road games against the Heat and Bulls coming up.

Fortunately for Cleveland, Garland and Mobley got the job done.  

According to Cavs Notes, the 22-year-old Garland(41) and the 20-year-old Mobley (22) combined for 63 points. They are the first Cavs’ teammates age 22 or younger to combine for 63-plus points in a single game since 2013.

As for the standings, the sixth-seeded Cavaliers are now a 1/2 game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(39-27).

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their three-game road trip Friday night in Miami against the Heat.

Best of the Rest:

Indiana had eight players in double figures, led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 25 points and nine assists. Goga Bitadze, Jalen Smith, and Duane Washington Jr. had 15 points apiece.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Cavs. Isaac Okoro added 11 points, and Wade chipped in with 10.

-The Cavs(4-0) swept the season series with the Pacers.

-Rajon Rondo returned after missing six games with a toe injury. He went scoreless in 11 minutes of action, but he did have two rebounds and four assists

LeVert(foot) missed his seventh straight game.

Watch below as Mobley and Garland react to the win over the Pacers:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Caris(LeVert) is a complete player’

The Cleveland Cavaliers love to have 20-plus point deficits against the Indiana Pacers. Last Sunday night, Indiana led Cleveland by as many as 20 points, and the Cavs stormed back to defeat them 98-85 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

On Friday night in Indiana, the Cavs trailed by as many as 21 points to the Pacers in the second quarter, and like they did last Sunday, Cleveland battled back and defeated the Pacers 120-113 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. 

This was the Cavs largest comeback victory of the season.

Cleveland had seven players in double figures Friday night. 

The Cavs(35-21) have now won four straight and 13 of 16, while the Pacers(19-38) have lost five straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Pacers.

The Great for the Cavs:

Caris LeVert, in his first game back in Indiana since the trade, got the start at point guard for the injured Darius Garland(back), and he made play after play down the stretch. He scored eight(4-4 FG) of his team-high tying 22 points in the fourth. LeVert scored those eight fourth-quarter points in crunch time. Cleveland trailed 109-105, and LeVert cut it to two with just under five minutes to go, and after a Rajon Rondo three gave the Cavs a 110-109 lead, LeVert scored six straight points for the Cavs. That’s how you close a game. LeVert also added five assists, three steals, and a block.

Make it four straight double-doubles for Jarret Allen. He had 22 points and 14 rebounds. In the last four games, he’s averaging 20.2 points and 16.7 rebounds. Unfortunately, we can’t call Allen an All-star, but we can say he’s playing like one.

Rajon Rondo was a calming presence Friday night. He made all the right plays. The four-time All-Star had a season-high 17 points(6/7 FG), 10 which came in the fourth, seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals. LeVert was good, but they don’t win this game without Rondo, who gave the Cavs their first lead of the game when he hit a three to put Cleveland up 110-109 with just over four minutes left in the fourth.  

Fourth Quarter: After falling behind by 16 points late in the third, Cleveland went on a 10-2 run to get the deficit under ten as they trailed 96-88, heading into the fourth. In the fourth, the Cavs picked it up. Rondo and LeVert combined for 18 of the team’s 32 points in the final period. Anytime you make a large comeback, you need your defense and Cleveland defended. They held Indiana to 32% shooting from the floor, including 2/11 from three-point range, and created eight turnovers leading to 13 points. Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 in the quarter.

Second-Half Defense: Cleveland allowed a season-high 74 first-half points Friday night, but things got better in the second half. The Cavs held the Pacers to 39 points in the half. Indiana was on fire in the first half as they shot 61% from the floor, including 63%(12/19) from downtown. However, Cleveland held Indiana to 33% shooting from the field in the second half. In addition, they created 12 of Indiana’s 23 turnovers in the second half, which led to 19 points. In total, Cleveland scored 28 points off turnovers. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter:  The Pacers could not miss in the first quarter. They shot 71% from the field, including `10/12(83%) from three-point range. Cleveland allowed a season-high 47 points in the first. After one, Indiana led 47-28 and took a 74-63 lead at halftime.

In the last four games, all wins, Cleveland has been outscored by a combined 44 points in the first quarter, so that’s something they have to fix going forward. 

Bottom Line:

LeVert showed he could be a closer Friday night. He was able to get anywhere he wanted on the court and showed that he is a “bucket.” Also, give credit to Rondo, who also rescued this team in the second half.

Cleveland did not play its best game without their best player(Garland), but they found ways to get it done. Learning how to get the victory when you’re not at your best is what the better teams in the NBA do, and Cleveland is just that, one of the better in the league.

The Cavs(second seed) are now one game behind the Heat for the top spot in the East as they have a big one against Philadelphia Saturday night.

“Caris(LeVert) is a complete player,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “He’s not just an offensive player. He knew what we needed to get it done.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs continue their three-game road trip before the All-Star break in Philly Saturday night against the 76ers, in the first of four games against Philadelphia this season.

Best of the Rest:

Kevin Love and Cedi Osman added 14 points apiece off the bench for Cleveland. Love also recorded his 7,000th point as a member of the Cavs Friday night; he became the ninth player to accomplish the feat in team history. Dean Wade chipped in with 13 points, and Isaac Okoro had 10.

Indiana had six players in double figures led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 23 points; Chris Duarte and Oshae Brissett had 18 points apiece.

The Pacers were 18/38(47%) from three-point range.

Watch below as LeVert reacts to the win over the Pacers:

 

Cavs’ Love: ‘This team doesn’t have any fear’

After defeating the Hornets Friday night in Charlotte, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned home to battle the Indiana Pacers Sunday night, and for the fourth straight game, Cleveland did not have the services of point guard Darius Garland(back).

The Pacers jumped out on the Cavs and led by as many as 20 points in the first half, but Cleveland stormed back. The Cavs scored the first 19 points in the fourth and would defeat Indiana 98-85 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland(33-21) has now won two straight and 11 of their last 14. Indiana(19-36) has lost three straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Pacers.

The Great for the Cavs:

Fourth Quarter/Second Half Cedi Osman: Going into the fourth quarter, Cedi Osman was 1/8 from the floor, including 0/5 from deep, and had only four points. Then, Osman went off. He scored 18 points on 7/8 shooting, including 4/5 from downtown in the fourth. The last player in Cavs’ history to score 18-plus points in a quarter was LeBron James in 2018.

Osman finished the game with 22 points and he scored 13 of Cleveland’s 19 points during the Cavs’ big 19-0 run in the final period.

In addition, Osman’s 18 points in the fourth were the most points he’s scored in a quarter in his career.

Second Half Kevin Love: Kevin Love scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth. Love had six of the 19 points during the team’s 19-0 run in the fourth. The five-time All-Star finished the game 4/8 from downtown, three which came in the fourth. Love also added seven rebounds and five assists.

Second Half Rajon Rondo: The 16-year veteran was big-time Sunday night. He had 10 of his 15 points, including seven in the fourth and eight of his season-high 12 assists in the second half. He also added five rebounds. This was not the playoffs, but we may have gotten a sample of “Playoff Rondo” Sunday night. 

Cavs’ Bench: Cleveland got an enormous performance from their bench. The Cavs had 62 bench points, and the bench outscored Cleveland’s starters 62-36. 

Cleveland’s bench also outscored the Pacers’ bench by 30 points(62-32). 

-Jarrett Allen had 15 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Like he did Friday night against Charlotte, Allen had a double-double in the first half. He also added two blocks against the Pacers.

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland entered the fourth trailing 68-61. In the fourth, the Cavs scored the first 19 points and would take an 80-68 lead. Cleveland would have their largest lead of the game of 17 points in the fourth. All told, the Cavs shot 13/18(72%) from the floor, including 8/11(72%) from three-point range. Cleveland would outscore the Pacers 37-17 in the quarter.

Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter: The Cavaliers did not get the start they wanted Sunday night. Cleveland trailed by as many as 18 points in the first quarter. The Cavs shot 4/23(17%) from the field, including 0/5 from deep. Indiana forced five Cavs’ turnovers leading to nine points. Ultimately, the Cavs would trail 27-12 after one and was down 47-36 at the break.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland showed a lot of scrap Sunday night. They looked dead in the water in the first half, but they slowly crawled their way back and got it done.

Now, the best news. According to ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski, Cleveland will acquire Pacers guard Caris LeVert for a 2022 second-round pick via Miami for Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract, a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick, and two second-round picks.

The Cavs needed another scorer and a guy who gets buckets, and LeVert gets buckets, including scoring 42 points Friday night against the Bulls. This season, LeVert, an Ohio native, is averaging 18.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.

In addition, Cleveland(fourth seed) is now one game behind the Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The goal coming into the season was to be better and possibly make the playoffs, and now, the goal could be the NBA Finals.

“This team doesn’t have any fear because we trust each other,” Love said after the game. 

What’s Next:

Cleveland will have a few days off before they battle the Spurs Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Best of the Rest:

Chris Duarte led the Pacers with 22 points, Duane Washington Jr. added 17 points and Domantas Sabonis had nine points and 11 rebounds.

Evan Mobley added nine points, four rebounds, and three blocks for Cleveland. This was Mobley’s 23rd multi-block game of the season, which is the most among rookies.

-Cleveland forced 19 turnovers which led to 24 points. In addition, they held the Pacers to 37% shooting from the floor, including 26% from deep.

-Lauri Markkanen(ankle) missed his seventh straight game Sunday night.

-Cleveland had five players in double figures.

Watch below as Rondo talks big win over Pacers, LeVert, more:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff was happy with team’s effort in loss to Pacers

The Cleveland Cavaliers(21-48) lost again on Monday night as they fell to the Pacers(32-36) 111-102 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cleveland has now lost a season-high 11 straight and has dropped 14 of their last 15 games.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points and 20 rebounds for Indiana, and Kelani Martin scored a career-high 25 points off the bench.

The Cavaliers’ Isaac Okoro had 20 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and Dean Wade had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Cleveland had only nine players available on Monday night, and was without Kevin Love, Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and six others, but they fought in this game. The Cavaliers led 60-53 at halftime. However, Indiana would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Following an Okoro running layup that tied the game at 91 midway through the fourth quarter, Indiana went on a 14-4 run to take complete control of the game. 

While the Cavs lost their 11th straight, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was pleased with the team’s fight against the Pacers.

“They laid it on the line tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “They gave us everything they had tonight. We just came up a little short.”

After the game, some of the talk was about assistant Lindsay Gottlieb, who will be leaving the team to become the head coach for the USC women’s basketball team. 

Collin Sexton, who had 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds on Monday night, had a great relationship with Gottlieb and really enjoyed the advice she gave him.

“She always going to give me the real advice and the true advice that I need,” Sexton said about Gottlieb. “At the end of the day, she’s not going to sugarcoat anything. if she feels like I’m not playing up to my potential, she’ll let me know.”

Cleveland will complete their three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they host the Celtics. The Cavaliers will finish their season on the road when they battle the Wizards on Friday and Brooklyn on Sunday.

Sexton on loss to Pacers: ‘We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points’

For most of the night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-22)were rolling against the Indiana Pacers. After Darius Garland made a driving layup plus the foul in the third quarter, Cleveland went up 77-60. However, Garland would leave the game with a groin injury, and Indiana(16-19) would outscore the Cavs by 20 points the rest of the way and win 114-111 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night. 

With the loss, Cleveland’s four-game winning streak is snapped. Indiana was led by Malcolm Brogdon, who had a team-high 29 points, and T.J. McConnell, who had a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists, and 10 steals off the bench. McConnell set an NBA record with nine steals(first half) in a half and became the first player since Mookie Blaylock(1998) to have a triple-double with points, assists, and steals.

After Garland went out of the game, Cleveland’s offense struggled, and they committed seven of the team’s season-high 26 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the struggles on offense without Garland.

“Darius is a heck of a playmaker,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “He’s a guy teams have to worry about as far as scoring and also making his teammates better. He was one of our primary ball-handlers and playmakers. And, without him in the game, it just became a little more difficult… We missed Darius a lot down the stretch.”

According to Collin Sexton, who had a game-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists, if the team would have limited the turnovers, they would beat the Pacers on Wednesday night.

“We just gotta be better,” Sexton said. “We had too many turnovers tonight. We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points.

Despite the loss, Cleveland has to be excited by how they played in the last few games before the All-Star break, especially when you consider they had a 10-game losing streak. Now, as they go into the break, Cleveland has to hope they can get it healthy, which could give this team a shot at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

 

Cavs’ GM is excited about the acquisition of Jarrett Allen

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince from the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Houston Rockets, the team announced on Thursday.

In exchange, Cleveland is sending guard Danté Exum and a 2022 unprotected first round draft pick via Milwaukee to Houston, and the lesser of Utah and Cleveland’s 2024 second round draft picks to Brooklyn. The Cavaliers have also acquired from Brooklyn the draft rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov, who was selected by the Nets with the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

As part of the three-team trade, the Nets are receiving guard James Harden from the Rockets. In exchange, Houston is receiving forward Caris LeVert, forward Rodions Kurucs, three first round draft picks, and the rights to swap four first round draft picks from Brooklyn. While it’s not official, it is expected that LeVert will be shipped to Indiana for Victor Oladipo.

For Cleveland, they add a young center in the 6-11 Allen. In 12 games (five starts) for the Nets this season, Allen is averaging career highs of 11.2 points on .677 shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 26.7 minutes. The 22-year-old Allen is an excellent finisher around the basket and is a very good shot-blocker.

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman is excited about the acquisition of Allen and what he brings to the table. 

“Obviously, you build through the draft,” Altman said on Thursday. “When we started this process a couple of years ago, we knew we were going to build through the draft. Very excited about the additions we made there the last two, three years… To add a center that’s 22 years old, but that’s going into his fourth year in the league. That’s proven, that has more upside, that has all the intangibles you look for to add to your culture. To have that opportunity yesterday, we just felt was too good to pass up. 

Adding Allen, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, to what the Cavs have in guys like Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro is exciting. There is a lot of youth with a lot of upside right now in Cleveland.

Regarding the 26-year-old Prince, he will get a decent opportunity, especially with all the injuries in Cleveland. In 12 games (four starts) this season with the Nets, Prince is averaging 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes.

With this trade, the Cavaliers have three centers in JaVale McGee, Andre Drummond, and Allen. Drummond can become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so what Cleveland does there should be interesting. The 27-year-old Drummond, who has played well and is making $28.7 million this season, could be enticing for some teams because of his expiring contract, so with Allen in the mix and based on what the Cavs gave up to get Allen, it would appear that Drummond could be the odd man out in Cleveland. We’ll see how that situation plays out.

Also, on Thursday, the Cavaliers waived center Thon Maker and released guard Yogi Ferrell. Maker played in eight games with Cleveland this season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.5 minutes. He joined the Cavaliers in the 2020 Preseason. Ferrell (6-0, 178) was signed to a 10-day contract by Cleveland on Jan. 11 and appeared in two games for the Cavaliers this season, averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in 20.0 minutes.

 

Wizards’ Brooks: ‘We have to see what we have at a lot of different positions’

The effort was there; the energy was there, but unfortunately, the talent is not there for the Washington Wizards. On Monday, Washington cut a 22-point 4th quarter deficit to seven but would lose to the Pacers 111-100. With the loss, the Wizards(24-43) fall to 0-3 in Orlando.

Fresh off a 53-point performance against the 76ers on Saturday, T.J. Warren had another strong game for Indiana. Warren had a game-high 34 points, and 11 rebounds, and Malcolm Brogdon added 20 points. For Washington, Thomas Bryant poured in 20 points and 11 rebounds. After Washington cut Indiana’s lead to two in the third quarter, the Pacers went on a 22-2 run to close the quarter and take complete control of the game. 

At this point, it’s about developing players for the Wizards, and for a good part of the fourth quarter, we saw Troy Brown Jr. at point guard, a position he played in high school. Brown had some nice moments at the point, including a great pass to Thomas Bryant that led to a dunk.

 

 

“For me, it felt natural,” Brown, who finished with 10 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, said after the game about getting time at point guard. “Today, I had more turnovers than I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I feel comfortable calling the offenses, bringing the ball up, and just initiating the offense and kind of getting us into a flow.”

After the game, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks hinted at the 21-year-old Brown getting more minutes at the point guard position.

“We have to see what we have at a lot of different positions,” Brooks said. “These are great minutes. We’re not just giving minutes to give them. Players gotta earn them, and if you’re not playing well, we’re going to throw other guys in there. That’s why we are here. 

“We are here to get better; we’re here to improve, and there might be another game where Troy(Brown) maybe starts at the point. You never know; we just have to be ready. We want to continue to build him as a multiple position player. If you want to call him a positionless player, that’s even better, but I think he has to be ready to play all spots.”

The next five games should interesting for the Wizards in terms of development. This is now the time to start experimenting. Brown at the point is a good start, and if he flourishes at that spot, maybe he’ll get some backup point guard minutes next season, or at times, Brown could get minutes at the point, which could free up John Wall.

Young players grow by playing, and the Wizards will continue to have that opportunity the rest of the way.

Notes:

-After struggling earlier in the game with his shot, Washington’s Jerome Robinson got hot in the fourth quarter. Robinson scored 16 of his 17 points in the quarter, which got the Wizards back into the game.

-The Wizards are 7.5 games behind the Nets for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington must be within four games of the 8th-seeded team to force a play-in game. 

-Rui Hachimura did not have a big scoring game( 9 points) on Monday, but he did have seven rebounds and a career-high six assists, and his coach was happy with his performance

Brooks on Hachimura:

“I thought he had a great game. He rebounded, he passed.”

-Washington returns to action on Wednesday against Philadelphia.

Pacers’ Brogdon tested positive for COVID-19

Indiana Pacers G Malcolm Brogdon announced today that he has tested positive for COVID-19.  

Here is a statement from Brogdon:

“I recently tested positive for the COVID virus and am currently in quarantine,” he said. “I’m doing well, feeling well, and progressing well. I plan to join my teammates in Orlando for the resumption of the NBA season and playoffs.”

Not having Brogdon would be a massive loss for the Pacers. In 48 games, the third-year player is averaging career-highs in points(16.7), assists(7.1), and rebounds(4.7) per game. Brogdon injured his quad in March, but he announced in April that he was healthy. 

The 27-year-old Brogdon joined the Pacers last offseason in a sign-and-trade with the Bucks and signed a four-year, $85 million deal with Indiana. 

The NBA s expected to get underway on July 30. Teams will arrive in Orlando on July 7. 

Thad Young on LeBron: ‘This is the best I’ve seen him play’

At the age of 33, LeBron James is still playing at an elite level, and the numbers show that. He has seven 40 point games in these playoffs, which is the most since 1989 when Michael Jordan did it seven times with the Bulls. Also, James is leading the league in scoring in these playoffs.

Quite frankly, he’s doing it all and did it all in Game 7 after scoring 35 PTS, 15 REB, and 9 AST in the Cavs’ 87-79 victory over the Celtics on Sunday night in Boston. With the win, Cleveland returns to the Finals for the 4th straight season, and LeBron makes the Finals for the 8th consecutive year.

One man who has seen the greatness of LeBron in these playoffs up-close and personal is Pacers F Thad Young. Young’s Pacers lost to the Cavs in seven games in the first-round. Young is very impressed with “King James,” and he believes that LeBron is playing the best ball of his career:

“You gotta understand he’s chasing greatness right now,” Young told the Go4it podcast.  ‘He’s continuing to play for championships and trying to break records each and every game he steps out there. He’s been doing it. I think he’s really, really re-focused himself and just concentrated on bringing that team along. He doesn’t have the best talent around him. This is not the best Cleveland team he’s had, but he’s bringing them along with his leadership, and his will, and determination. I will say that this is the best I’ve seen him play.”

All you can do is marvel at the greatness of LeBron James. His age-defying performances in these playoffs have been breathtaking. Moving forward, you wonder how long he can play at this high level. However, no matter what happens the rest of this season, it’s clear, LeBron has proven he still has a lot left in the tank.

Listen to Young talk LeBron below at the 06:51 mark: