Boston's Al Horford understands that while the league this season has seen lots of individual success as well as teams that have overachieved, the thirst for Golden State versus Cleveland remains stronger than ever.
"I didn't have it", said James. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it?
If you don't want to rile up friends and relatives over the long weekend, you might also steer clear of the James-Jordan comparison.
Irving, who scored a career-playoff-high 42 points, rolled his left ankle with 1:49 left in his 21-point third quarter but is expected to play Thursday. He quickly flashed one finger as he backpedaled down the court.
After the game, James told reporters that he was honored to pass Jordan, who was his childhood idol. Twitter congratulation posts poured in - including one from Magic Johnson.
James was quick to shut down any residual feelings about his tepid performance as Cleveland practiced ahead of Tuesday's game four, with the Cavs leading 2-1 in the series. "That was my mindset".
The Cavs would need every ounce Irving would provide as James' early foul trouble was met with an inability to hit shots outside of the paint and the Celtics sticking on the team's otherwise lethal three-point shooters. But he said both he and his teammates continue to be inspired by their leader.
"This team is a insane team".
"We're definitely disappointed. I feel like if we weren't, there'd be a problem", Bradley said. "I'm focused on the present, not the past".
Boston's Avery Bradley tried to fight back with 14 points in the second quarter.
Thomas is set to play the last of his four-year, $27 million contract next season.
The Celtics lost that game by 44 points to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, then announced the next day that Thomas was done for the season.
Irving said Cleveland would benefit from having been put under pressure by Boston in Game 4. Deron Williams added 14 off the bench for Cleveland, who led by as many as 39.
100 - The Cavs have scored 100 or more points in all 12 of their postseason games this year, joining the 2017 Golden State Warriors as the only teams to accomplish such a streak in National Basketball Association history.
The way they responded Tuesday night - particularly on the defensive end - is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday.
Celtics: Never led at home in the series. Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing.
Much more of that sort of that will likely follow over the next week, filling time before Golden State plays host to Game 1. "And Brad (Stevens has) got them moving and cutting and playing with pace and everybody is a threat".