Cavs look sharper since Game 3 loss to Celtics

LeBron James' frustrating night kept going after one of the worst playoff games of his splendid career.

"I kept saying we can't go back to Boston with this series 2-2", said Irving. "He was born for these moments".

The win gives Cleveland a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and leaves them firmly on track for a third consecutive NBA Finals showdown against the Golden State Warriors. That was clear when they refused to waver in Game 3, and it was evident again when they picked apart the Cavaliers defense at the start of Game 4.

Yet, Lue said that the Celtics' unpredictability - born out of necessity, with Thomas' shutting down his season at halftime of Game 2 because of a hip injury - has made things hard after the coach had to scrap his defensive orders all catered toward limiting Thomas.

The Cavs, meanwhile, wouldn't be on the cusp of the Finals without Irving.

From hitting the championship-winning shot against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals to stepping up at a time when small forward LeBron James was struggling through foul trouble, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has never shined away from that kind of stage. Irving then keyed a rally with two 3-pointers, a driving layup and two free throws as the Cavs drew to within 57-47 at halftime.

"He saw Bron went out and he wanted to put the team on his shoulders", Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. The Cavs had a slim lead at the time, but Irving going down could've been devastating. Boston fell behind early, 5-0, then went on an 11-0 tear to serve notice they weren't conceding anything. "I think it's more of a tip your hat thing with. tonight".

Cleveland shot 76 perc ent from the floor in the third quarter, led by Irving's 13-for-16 shooting. Still, assuming Thomas' injured hip is not a long-term issue, keeping him should be an easy choice. "They are going to (bring) the fight to you and we have to be ready for that".

"(The Celtics are), like I told you guys before, it's like we're preparing for a whole new team. "Those two guys were incredible". "He's the best in the National Basketball Association and many get around Avery".

Meanwhile, Kevin Love continued his outstanding series by pitching in with 17 points and a career playoff-high 17 rebounds.

It was James' lowest point total in the playoffs since he scored seven for Miami in the 2014 conference finals against in, and before Boston's comeback, James was 49-0 in playoff games his team led by at last 20 points.

Irving kept the game close until half-time with 12 points.

"It seems like you only ask questions when we lose", James said.

They've given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2.

  • Julie Sanders