Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Avery Bradley rattled in a game-winning three pointer at the buzzer - with the ball touching every part of the rim before bouncing in - as the Boston Celtics clawed their way back into the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference finals series with a 111-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are up 3-1 in their Eastern Conference finals series against the Boston Celtics, but Cavs coach Tyronn Lue still is having difficulty planning for the C's. After a rocky first half which saw them trail by double-digits and LeBron James pick up four fouls, the Cavs were simply too much to handle for the Celtics in the second half.

In fact, LeBron James used those very words to explain why losing Game 3 to the Celtics was a good thing. James had his worst night of the playoffs in Game 3, scoring only 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting.

The positive for the Cavs, who lost for the first time in 11 playoff games in 2017 and for the first time in their last 14 postseason games overall, is that James usually responds to a awful game with a fantastic one.

"It wasn't tough to watch", he said as the Cavaliers prepared for Tuesday night's Game 4.

But that was not James' worst playoff performance in Miami.

The point guard finished with 42 points on 15-22 shooting, while James turned in 34 points to go with six assists and five rebounds.

There are 240 minutes of play in an National Basketball Association game, but Boston's 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise). With LeBron James struggling early, Irving's incredible play helped Cleveland grab a win in Game 4, 112-99. He didn't get to the free-throw line. I expect the Cavs to bounce back with and take a 3-1 lead going into Game 5 but I think the value is with the Celtics in this one. "I'm not going to criticize him one bit", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after his team won on a late three-point shot by Avery Bradley.

"We've got guys that have chips on their shoulders", Stevens added. If you said LeBron James would go scoreless in the fourth quarter and 1 for 8 from the field in the second half in the loss, people would have laughed in your face. In Game 3, they didn't quite get that. The Celtics used their third different starting lineup in four games against Cleveland. We have to have low turnovers, and we have to try to make them miss because some of those guys play a lot better at home.

But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won't be easy. "You always come around when we lose, I swear".

"Uh, I mean, listen, you've got to be smart about it", James said. "I'm not sure there are good choices". One of the things about Marcus is he's going to play regardless of the score.

  • Julie Sanders