Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Celtics rally to beat Cavaliers in NBA East Finals


James exchanged words with a fan late Sunday night after the Boston Celtics stormed back from a 21-point deficit in the third quarter and shocked the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. Until more defensive breakdowns occurred later in Game 3, with far cooler shooting from Cleveland (14-of-22 from 3 in the first half and 2-of-17 in the second), all while the Celtics' defense and shooting did the opposite (7-of-18 from 3 in the first half and 11-of-22 in the second) and generally outworked the Cavs, the game was in control.

Marcus Smart, who drew the start in place of Thomas, had one of the best games of his career, finishing with 27 points and making 7 of 10 3-pointers. In Game 3, he drained seven three-pointers in the first half and finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 36 minutes. James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting and missed all four of his attempts from deep.

"When you get momentum like that, you nearly knew that last shot was going in", LeBron James said in explaining how the Cavs watched a 21-point advantage disappear.

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The Cubs postponed Saturday's game on the threat of rain that never came, prompting this from Brewers manager Craig Counsell: "It's the first time for us that we've had players treated for sunburn after a rainout". I've watched a lot of LeBron James playoff performances, and last night's-which I absolutely saw, from beginning to end; I really can not stress this enough-might have been the worst one.

"Smart got hot", Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. It's hard to pin down what was wrong with James last night-I definitely have a few theories because I watched the game very closely-but there's no denying his off night killed the Cavs. In his first 10 playoff games -all wins - he was averaging 34.3 points and shooting 57 percent from the field, 46 percent from three-point range and averaging only 3.8 turnovers per game. Game 4 will be Tuesday in Quicken Loans Arena.

It's poor communication on their behalf to not know how they're going to defend the action, but the way in which the Celtics are set up puts a lot of pressure on them to cover shooters and prevent layups. Bradley, who is converting 36.3 percent of his perimeter shots in the postseason, gets off a clean look from his sweet spot and knocks down the 3-pointer to give the Celtics a 111-108 lead. It's our job to go out there and make sure that we make the next right play. He also had six turnovers. Boston dominated the regular season as they clinched the Eastern Conference, with a record of 53-29. Not just that the Celtics broke the Cavs' 13-game playoff win streak. I haven't written about the Cavs in this space forever, and the one time I volunteer to take a bit for someone because of scheduling this happens. But Celtics' fans will understand why the team must trade its most famous and popular player if they are to hang another banner at the Garden. Given how he's bullied the Celtics' guards like Smart in the post, and Kelly Olynyk and Al Horford can't contain him attacking off the dribble, it's clear LeBron's mindset was different. "I think that is what hurt us". "If it was going to happen, let it happen now". "I don't know what to say other than he's a handful".

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