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LeBron James pays price for putting Cavaliers on his shoulders

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wipes his face

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James wipes his face during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2015. Credit: AP / Ben Margot

The clicking of cameras and video capturing LeBron James' every move already had documented his slow trip through Oracle Arena's inner corridors and into the interview room.

After the Cavaliers' series-tying 95-93 overtime victory over the Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night, everyone could see James' trek to the podium and come to their own conclusions about his aches and pains. That's what logging 50:22 after playing 45:46 in the series opener will do at this time of year.

"Did you see how I walked in here? I'm feeling it," James said when asked about his health leading into Tuesday night's Game 3 at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. "I'm feeling it right now for sure. That's why I've got one of the best trainers in the world in Mike Mancias who will make sure I'm ready for Game 3. We already have started on my rehab. Already started on my session.

"We've got all-around-the- clock treatment and get ready for Game 3. I'll be ready."

In delivering the first NBA Finals win in Cavaliers history, James did everything but don a cape. Every bit of his fifth career NBA Finals triple-double was a necessity, a byproduct of the Cavaliers' rash of injuries.

James had 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists Sunday night. Turns out he was responsible for 79 percent of the Cavaliers' assists, 41 percent of their points and 29 percent of their rebounds. His 35 shots represented 39 percent of Cleveland's total. In Game 1, he scored 44 points (44 percent of the team total) and took 38 shots (40 percent), adding eight rebounds and six assists.

"Geez, you'd be hard-pressed to find a guy anywhere, any time -- I can think of a name or two, but that's the whole history of basketball -- that can give you the kind of all-around performance and all-around leadership that LeBron does for his group," coach David Blatt said. "He really willed his guys to win that game. That's what a champion does, and obviously he's a champion."

It's going to take that kind of performance by James for the Cavaliers to deliver their championship-starved city its first pro crown in 51 years. Keeping up this pace won't be easy.

"I'm not a high-volume shooter. I've never been in my career," he said. "But things have changed on our team where the shots that Kevin [Love] and Kyrie [Irving] would have has now been placed on myself and the rest of the guys as well. It's what needs to be done to help our team win.

"Am I going to be in the 30s every game or things of that nature? I'm not sure. I would not like to. But if that's what the case has to be to help us win, then I don't have a choice."

Not if he wants to seize this moment and win Game 3. "For me to be able to go out on the biggest stage and to be able to make plays happen for my teammates is the ultimate feeling for myself," he said. "That's why I take my profession, I take my craft very seriously."

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