Cavaliers remain humble with chance to close out Celtics in Game 5

The visiting Celtics turned in another determined effort, defending stoutly and executing expertly on offense to shoot to an early lead, while forcing LeBron James to the bench in early foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland limited the Celtics to 41 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. And speaking of rare, even leaving aside the odds and the arc both teams were tracing, there are a few other things that should not have happened in Game 3, but did. "We have to execute offensively".

"We had opportunities", James said.

"He's probably one of the best one-on-one players in the league", Lue said of Irving.

The ankle wasn't swollen after the game, but Irving expected he would be sore after his adrenaline wore off.

Irving stayed on the floor for several seconds before sitting up and re-tying his sneaker.

The loss may have been more than just that for Boston, as they now head back to the Garden not just on the brink of elimination, but with more tape on their altered look, and more time for James and the Cavs to piece together the new puzzle. The last time the Celtics took to the parquet floor, they were clobbered by the Cavs by 44 points.

"In the back of my mind I'm saying to myself, 'They can not tie up this series, ' " Irving said of the Celtics after Game 4. He had 39 to end the third.

It's an indication that despite still being in a dire 3-1 hole, the resolve inside Boston's locker room remains strong. We know ways we can get better. "You can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game".

"In the back of my mind, I was like, I'm saying to myself, 'We can not - they can not tie up this series, '" Irving said.

"You can't (think about it)". And you just knew eventually LeBron was going to figure it out and get back to being LeBron - which he did.

If nothing else, Lue said their recent taste of adversity should help them remain humble heading into Game 5. "He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him". And it's making us tougher. Nights like Tuesday are why teams such as the Cavs and Warriors are so dangerous-on any given night, one of their stars can take over and render an opposing coach's plans completely meaningless. Marcus Smart, who made just 28.3 percent of his three-pointers in the regular season, hit seven of his 10 shots from behind the arc.

AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Independence, Ohio contributed to this report. The Cavaliers won 112-99.

With Cleveland in jeopardy of dropping its second game in a row after James followed an 11-point Game 3 by picking up four first-half fouls, Irving put on a breathtaking one-man show in the third quarter.

  • Julie Sanders