Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3 reaction and analysis

Irving took over the game in the second half and finished with 42 points despite a tender ankle, LeBron James added 34 and the Cavaliers moved one win from an nearly inevitable third date in the NBA Finals with the Warriors by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) looks to drive on Boston Celtics' Terry Rozier (12) during the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Cleveland. In his final season in Miami, the Heat were looking to eliminate the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals in Game 5 when James, who had averaged 26.3 points on 59.2 percent shooting in the first four games of the series, came up with an inexplicable performance, much like Sunday's.

James could only muster 11 points (and coughed up the rock six times) in Boston's stunning 111-108 Game 3 win, and says he's ready to bounce back in a major way.

The Celtics believe their defense had a lot to do with that, although James said Boston didn't defend him any differently than when he scored 30 points in just 33 minutes in Game 2. Game 4 will be another chance for more Celtics players to step into the spotlight. He scored 11 points total and just three, on 1-of-9 shooting, as the Boston went on a rampage throughout the second half. With leading scorer Isaiah Thomas ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with a hip injury, a sweep for the Cavaliers looked like all but a formality. Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said James was in "good spirits" when they spoke.

So, too, did James' lackluster performance, but Lue is confident his superstar will bounce back.

The Celtics have won their last two road games as underdogs of more than seven points.

Lue however shrugged off the off night on Monday as he prepared his team for Tuesday's Game 4 in Cleveland. "I mean, LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what this (Cleveland) team needs from him". LeBron James For the second time in his playoff career, James was held scoreless in the fourth quarter in which he played the entire period. When he gets going like that, he's tough to stop.

But beyond James' foul trouble, the Cavs were having other issues as the Celtics outplayed them at both ends while opening a 16-point lead. "We can't go back to Boston tied 2-2". "We have to play a lot better". He finished with a playoff career high 17 rebounds to go along with 17 points and 5 assists. In Game 3, the Cavs got exactly what they wanted from James' talented supporting cast. In the second half, he was 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 on 3-pointers. We've got to be better, but there's nothing wrong with being confident and feeling good. They played cool. Boston just hung in there. "I feel some adversity is part of the postseason. It's making us work", the Cavs coach said. "We fought and came out with the victory".

As Lue spoke to a large group of reporters and some Cavs players got in extra shots following practice, James was noticeably absent from the floor. If it was going to happen, let it happen now; let us regroup.

  • Julie Sanders