Here’s what happened on day 32 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs:
BOS 111 – CLE 108, CLE leads series 2-1
The Boston Celtics made sure they weren’t going to get swept.
Despite not having Isaiah Thomas due to a hip injury, a flurry of hot shooting, reserves stepping up, and big out-of-timeout plays down the stretch lifted the East’s top seed to victory over the defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland had previously won the first two games in Boston. The Celtics repaid the favor by taking this one in The Land.
It didn’t seem like we were going to get an upset through the first half however. The Cavaliers boasted of a lead as high as 18 points, 66-48, behind Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Love was a scorching hot 7-of-10 from beyond the arc for 22 points, while Kyrie Irving added four triples of his own, en route to 17 markers, plus six dimes.
Out of the break, the Cavs kept at it, and got their tally to a high of 21 points, 77-56, off a second-chance basket by Tristan Thompson, who was also having a superb game. In response however, Boston rattled off a 26-10 run highlighted by the sensational play of Marcus Smart to enter the fourth period trailing by a mere five points, 87-82.
Jonas Jerebko opened the final quarter with a big triple, pushing the Celtics within two, but Cleveland was able to lead by six twice more afterwards.
It was Smart that forged the series’ first deadlock at 95-all, 5:44 left, via a three-pointer, only for JR Smith to respond with a three of his own. Back-to-back baskets by Kelly Olynyk gave the Celtics their very first lead, 99-98, but the two sides traded baskets down the stretch.
With under a minute to go Al Horford canned a jumper off a timeout to put his team up three, 106-103, only for Smith to nail another from distance. The Celtics sued for time anew, and got Jerebko a 22-footer that connected.
Kyrie Irving forged one last tie, driving into the paint for a bucket, 108-all. The Celtics called their last timeout, and got Avery Bradley a nice look from three. The ball bounced around the rim for a bit, before falling in, to give Boston the victory.
Marcus Smart led the Celtics with a career postseason outing, scoring 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, to go with his seven assists and two steals. Avery Bradley added 20 points off 23 attempts. Al Horford put up 16 markers and six dimes, while Jonas Jerebko made all four of his attempts off the bench for 10 points.
Kyrie Irving finished with 29 points, while Kevin Love posted a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds. Tristan Thompson also helped on the glass with 18 points and 13 caroms.
LeBron James had one of his worst postseason outings with a mere 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Game four is set for Wednesday (PHL time).
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images