Posted on May 20, 2018, by Travis Pulver
No one really believed the Cleveland Cavaliers would fall behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals—but they did. Since the Boston Celtics franchise has never lost a playoff series after taking a 2-0 lead, the momentum would appear to be entirely on their side.
But then they had to go and play Game Three on the road in Cleveland.
The road has not been kind to the Celtics during the postseason. Combine their road woes with a LeBron James-led team determined not to be embarrassed at home, and you had the recipe for a whooping—which is exactly what the Celtics got.
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This one was bad from the start for the Boston Celtics and never got better. They struggled to make shots to start the game, committed three fouls in the first five minutes, and had more turnovers than baskets after seven minutes.
Cleveland stretched the lead out to 19-points late in the quarter. But they took a 15-point lead, 32-17, into the second quarter. The Cavs stretched the lead out to 21-points late in the quarter but led by 20-points, 61-41, at the half.
It didn’t look good for the Celtics. But the Cavs have given up big leads in the second half before. The Celtics have proven to be capable of overcoming them, too.
But not this time. Boston couldn’t make a dent in Cleveland’s lead in the third quarter. When the final quarter started, the Cavs lead was up to 24- points, 87-63. Neither team played many of the starters for long in the fourth.
When it was finally over, Cleveland had secured a 116-86 win over Boston.
“Even when things broke down, we just covered for one another,” James said after the game (ESPN). “We made them make extra passes. We made them make extra dribbles. [We] were flying around, and I just happened to be one of the guys on the floor that wanted to fly around as well.”
As usual, LeBron James led the way with a double-double for the Cavs, 27 points and 12 assists. But this time he got a little help from his friends. The other four starters each scored in double figures with Kevin Love and George Hill chipping in 13-points. Kyle Korver led the way off the bench with 14-points.
Boston had been the picture of teamwork and efficiency the first two games of the series. But this time they looked sloppy, couldn’t hit a shot if their lives depended on it, and lacked effort. Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 18 points, but he didn’t do much else.
“They took it to us,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game (ESPN). “Point blank: They just outplayed us.”
Coming back from a 2-0 deficit is tough. It’s only been done by 19 out of a possible 300 teams. That number includes two LeBron James led teams (2007 and 2016). While unlikely, it is possible. But when it comes to LeBron James, fans already know anything is possible.
Game Four will be Monday night in Cleveland. The game is set to get started at 8:30 PM ET.