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LeBron, Cavs see similarities in Patriots' Super Bowl comeback

LeBron, Cavs see similarities in Patriots' Super Bowl comeback

The last 11 months in sports have been exceptionally good for wild finishes in championship games. The NCAA Tournament was won on a last-second shot. The NBA Finals went seven games and down to the final minute. The World Series went seven games and the seventh needed 10 innings to end 108 years of heartbreak. The NCAA football title game was won in the last second. And Sunday's Super Bowl was the first ever to go to overtime and end on sudden death.

The winners of one of those epic games, the Cleveland Cavalieres, are in town to face the Wizards on Monday night, offering LeBron James and company to offer their thoughts and draw comparisons to what they were able to do last June against the Golden State Warriors, coming back from being down 3-1 in the series to win it all, to what the New England Patriots did in the Super Bowl.

Naturally, they see some similarities.

"The game ain’t over til it’s over," James said. "You gotta play the game out and as a fan watching the game you see the ups and downs. But, you seen the momentum start to change a little bit when they was able to get that first score, so I never counted him out."

"I know with the Patriots and our team, we have greats. Having LeBron James on your team, Kyrie who is great and then having a Tom Brady and one of the best coaches of all time in all sports [in Bill Belichick], you just got to have that belief," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who watched the game at the MGM with several players, said.

"Being down 3-1 where no team in NBA history has ever come back from in an NBA Finals and then I think the largest lead [overcome] in a Super Bowl was 10 and they were down 25. And to come back being down 19 to start the fourth quarter, I mean, everyone counted them out. They counted us out the same exact way and for those guys to come back and win was just unbelievable."

The comparisons between LeBron and Brady are not lost on LeBron himself. He said he has a mutual respect for the Patriots' legend.

"I just see greatness in Brady. He’s very calm. He’s very calm, no matter the situation, no matter the situation, no matter what was going on throughout the game. He’s just very calm. Worrying about what the next play was, worrying about making the next completion," James explained. "Just keeping his guys mentally focused on the job at hand. You’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have a sense of calm when everything else and everybody else is erratic, you’ve got to have a sense of calmness about you as the leader because your troops see that. When they see that, then they feel good about themselves."

With all of those comebacks, is it now en vogue - maybe even preferable - to have the odds stacked against you with a championship on the line? Not quite.

"I don’t know. I guess you’d rather have a lead than not have a lead," James said. "Just look at what’s been going on in our major sports, let’s just say it’s been great for the fans."

[RELATED: Wizards-Cavs: Oubre likely will spend time defending Irving]

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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