Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Watch all 7 of Marcus Smart's 3-pointers in Game 3

Watch all 7 of Marcus Smart's 3-pointers in Game 3

The defending National Basketball Association champions, who shot 71 percent in the second half, opened a 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap up their third straight conference title - and a "three-match" against the Warriors - with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston. Irving's 23-point quarter fueled a 40-point period for Cleveland, helping them turn the tables and take a 7-point lead going into the fourth. Only the Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta in 2015 were clinched and celebrated at the "Q".

A big part of the win was the shots finally falling, especially after the Cavs were completely on fire in the first half.

Lue paused for several seconds before responding to a question about the third and fourth fouls called on James, who was whistled for barely touching Marcus Smart on a jumper and then was called for a charge. "I mean, LeBron James understands how to play the game, and he understands what this team needs from him". He hit the game winning shot, a three, with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock to silence the Cleveland crowd.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Jerebko's biggest impact was his heart and physicality.

Basically, if Michael Jordan is the GOAT ("greatest of all-time"), LeBron James the best player since him.

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- The Celtics outscored Cleveland 55-31 during the last 18:24 of the game.

Finally, Irving sent the fans home with one more highlight in the final minutes with this feigned behind-the-back pass and drive to the hoop that's straight out of an AND 1 mixtape. He put on an exhibition of offensive excellence against the Boston Celtics, scoring a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter (a Cavs franchise record).

It's just weird that one bad game from James down the stretch of a Game 3 in a series that's been dominated by he and his team and all of a sudden, he's not in Michael Jordan's league anymore. Boston even has a shot at evening out the series. He didn't get to the free-throw line. He scored 10 points on 4/4 shooting, including two from deep.

- Smart and Irving tied for the game high in assists with seven apiece.

"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder", said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

"At the end of the day, this is about chipping away, single after single". Coach Brad Stevens said no decision had been made yet on whether Thomas would undergo an operation but he reiterated that he is out for the remainder of the playoffs.

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