Celtics not making it easy on Cavaliers

Following the loss, Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said adversity would be a good thing for the team, and he was not the only one with that feeling. And don't forget his classic Game 4 no-show against Dallas in the 2011 Finals, when he totaled just eight points.

It wasn't just James' 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting that killed Cleveland, although it was surprising, given the 68 points he'd scored in the first two games of this series. Love had 17 rebounds, also unprecedented for him in a playoff game.

The trio of Kyrie Irving (42), LeBron James (34) and Kevin Love (17) combined for 93 points, which is the most points the three of them have combined for in the playoffs and the 2nd highest scoring output by three teammates in franchise postseason history.

In game three, however, LeBron was ordinary. Can Boston really afford to invest in a wildly undersized point guard who will be on the verge of his 30th birthday?

By all accounts, the series had ended after two games. The Celtics have decisions to make as they hold the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and have several players heading into contract years.

Kyrie just wasn't letting that happen, though, as he not only weathered the storm while LeBron rode the bench, he turned on another gear.

The series resumes Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena before returning to Boston on Thursday for a Game 5 that didn't appear necessary until the Celtics stormed back from 21 down and won when Avery Bradley's 3-pointer danced an Irish jig on the rim before falling with 0.01 seconds left.

He did not travel with the team to Cleveland and Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that doctors might need the swelling in his hip to subside a bit more before he can get more definitive results. "We want to give our home crowd a better outing than we put out the past two games". The Cavs drew to within 61-58 when J.R. Smith followed an Irving miss with a dunk and James made a layup.

Irving said he was driven by the thought of the Cavs seeing their series lead vanish. "We put together a lot of good basketball here".

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn't about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

"It's making us work", the Cavs coach said. "So who do we go to get that?' And that's where he's been so big for them and so crucial this year". At the end of the third quarter he dribbled the clock down to almost zero, then casually hit a step-back 3-pointer that was so far out on the floor it almost called Uber.

"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. He wasn't called for a foul in the second half, which was to be expected, but the Celtics never really attacked him either.

Boston: Bradley (19), Crowder (18 + 8 rebounds), Horford (16 + 7 assists).

Then he hit a jumper with nine minutes left in the third, his first jumper made all night.

But then came the second half.

  • Julie Sanders