May 23, 2018
The Cleveland Cavaliers used their three-day break to recuperate, reform, and reestablish themselves as a team that belongs in the Eastern Conference Finals. With four of the five Cavalier starters having finals experience, Tyron Lue and the bunch finally looked more than ready to compete Saturday night. It was very apparent when the first buckets were scored, looking to score aggressively in the paint, while also knocking down open and contested threes. The Cavs went up 17-4, which was the largest lead of the series for them, and once the King had a ferocious block on Baynes, the Cavs would never look back. Three continued to drip for the Cavs, and the Celtics could not match the scoring output of James’ near perfect start (12 points on 4-5 shooting) and rest of the starting lineup. The Celtics woke up a bit but with George Hill knocking down threes, Larry Nance playing with energy, Kyle Korver shooting faster than old western shootouts, and Jeff Green keeping plays alive with hustle and intelligence, the Cavs would end the half with a 20-point lead. The three-point line was essential in the Cavalier lead, and once these shots started to fall, the energy in the Q was electric. Even when the Celtics hit shots and played with energy, it was too little too late. The bench for both teams would come in with 5 minutes remaining in the game, and the Cavaliers would cruise to a 116-86-point blowout to make the Eastern Conference Finals a bit more interesting.
It was the start of the game that fueled the Cavs to such a demoralizing defeat for the Celtics. Jaylen Brown was the focus of the Cavaliers, and this may have been one of the most important factors to why the Cavs won so big. They attacked him constantly which put him in foul trouble, and they denied him the ball and put him in positions in which he was uncomfortable. But, it was not just Brown, the Cavs did an exceptional job of being physical with the young Celtics, which led them to settle for jump shots rather than layups. The Cavs made 17 three pointers while also having six players scoring in double figures, finally giving LeBron the “supporting cast” he needs. The Celtics were due for a game like this due to the fact that the in the first two games, it feels as if not one of the Green Men could miss. But fortunately for them, they still hold a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Cavaliers will continue their bully-ball ways and again handle the Celtics at home. Expect a big game from Kevin Love because he has yet to show up consistently, but really expect Tristan Thompson to be a contributing factor not only defensively, but on the offensive end as well.
Game 4 will be played in Cleveland on Monday May 21, 2018 on ESPN at 8:30pm. Can the Celtics bounce back after their embarrassing loss and reclaim a firm grip of the series, or will the King and Co. tie the series and look to take over Eastern Conference Finals?
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