James looks to help the Cavaliers clinch their first postseason spot since 1998 when they host one of the Western Conference’s best teams, the Dallas Mavericks.
Thanks to Chicago’s 97-93 loss to Orlando on Tuesday, the Cavaliers can lock up a playoff berth with either one win or one more Bulls loss. Chicago’s next game is Friday at Charlotte.
James scored 36 points, including the go-ahead dunk with 3:24 left in overtime in Cleveland’s 104-102 win Sunday over Houston. Cleveland has won all five of its overtime games this season.
“It was exciting,” James said Sunday. “We did a great job. Yao (Ming) is very talented and it’s tough to beat this team. To get a win on their court is even better.”
James also scored 36 in Friday’s 94-82 win against Boston and hit his first last-second game-winner in a 120-118 overtime victory March 22 against Charlotte.
The third-year forward, who posted his 34th 30-point game of the season against the Rockets, was named the Eastern Conference player of the week for the second straight time and fourth this season. He has averaged 35.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists over his last seven games.
James is just six points shy of the team’s single-season points record (2,175) he set last season.
Damon Jones tallied a season-high 22 Sunday for the Cavs, who also can match their win total from last season and move 13 games over .500 for the first time since April 15, 1998.
“Going through games like this should really help us to be able to close it the right way,” coach Mike Brown said. “To execute it offensively and defensively at the end is huge.”
The Cavaliers have won six straight at home. Their five-game winning streak overall is their fourth this season, including a season-best eight-game run in November.
The Mavericks lost for the third time in five games on Tuesday, falling 97-90 to the Detroit Pistons. Dallas split the season series with Detroit, which moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Mavericks for the best record in the league.
“Obviously, this is a very disappointing loss,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We definitely gave ourselves a chance to win, we just didn’t execute down the stretch.”
The loss combined with San Antonio’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers also dropped the Mavericks one game behind the Spurs for the best record in the West.
“All the games at this point seem very interesting,” guard Jason Terry said.” This was one game we would’ve definitely liked to have won. We have to bounce back tomorrow and go hard.”
Dallas has won nine of its last 10 meetings with Cleveland.