4. Cleveland Cavaliers 116 – 2. Boston Celtics 86 (Celtics lead 2-1)
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 1 was an embarrassment. Game 2 was a disappointment. They needed to bounce back with a strong Game 3 or else face a hole that no team in the NBA has ever escaped from.
With their backs against the wall, Cleveland started to fight back against the Boston Celtics.
Offensively, LeBron James set the tone early. He was aggressive in attacking the defense, using his gravity to attract the defenders and find his open teammates. The rest of the Cavs answered the call. George Hill and JR Smith each buried a three-pointer as Cleveland zoomed out to a nine-point lead in the first few minutes of the game. James found Larry Nance, Jr. on back-to-back rolls to the hoop as the Cavaliers continued to build on their lead.
Cleveland also came out with a defensive energy they don’t normally showcase. The Cavaliers were switching faster, challenging shooters, staying in front of their man and playing the passing lanes. The Cavaliers don’t have a traditional rim protector so James took on that role. He blocked an Aron Baynes dunk attempt and followed it up with another shutdown of Semi Ojeleye.
James only played three quarters as they built a lead as big as 30 points in the second half. He finished with 27 points, five rebounds and 12 assists. James was excellent in conducting the Cavaliers.
James’ teammates also stepped up in today’s game. Kevin Love stepped up with a huge 13-14 double-double. JR Smith and George Hill combined for 24 points and six three-pointers.
Kyle Korver scored 14 points and was a perfect 5/5 from the field including 4/4 from three-point land. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance teamed up for 17 points.
It’s good to see some signs of life from the Cavaliers. The King has owned the East for the past seven years and he was in danger of missing out on the Finals for the first time in a long time. Now the Cavaliers have to prove that Game 3 wasn’t the exception but the norm.