#2 – Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James continued his dominance against the Boston Celtics this series by dropping a game-high 31 points in 42 minutes of action to help lead the Cavaliers to a commanding 3-0 series lead. Game 3 saw the Cavs get off to their best start in any game in the series, as it was the first time they led after the first quarter; they had trailed after the first period in each of the previous two games. The largest deficit the Cavs faced all night was four points near the end of second quarter, but they went on a 12-0 run to close out the first half to take a 56-48 lead at halftime.
The Cavs flexed some of their depth on Thursday night as five players scored in double figures, including 23 from Kevin Love, 15 from J.R. Smith, 13 from Kyrie Irving and 12 from Tristan Thompson. The turning point of the game seemed to be that run to end the first half as the Celtics would only be able to tie the game in the second half after being down by eight at halftime.
At this point, it looks like the Cavs will finish off the Celtics – as no team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in the history of the NBA. The Cavs can’t get complacent on Sunday as they’ll likely have the Chicago Bulls waiting for them. The Bulls are looking to complete a four-game sweep of their own against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. The Cavs will need to be as fresh as possible for Chicago and will look to avoid having to play any extra games against the Celtics with the strong possibility of the Bulls looming next round.
#7 – Boston Celtics
If the Celtics were going to take a game in this series, it needed to be this one. It was the first time on their home court this postseason and had the benefit of playing with new-found energy fueled by their home fans. Evan Turner led the Celtics with 19 points while Avery Bradley added 18 and Jae Crowder chipped in 16 off of the bench in a losing effort.
The Celtics were able to tie the game in the third quarter, but the Cavs proved to be too much down the stretch. The Celtics had plenty of chances again in the fourth quarter as they held the Cavs to just 35 percent shooting from the field, but they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities. One huge positive for the Celtics was how they handled the Cavs in the paint. They outscored the Cavs 48-28 down low and kept the rebound margin even all game. They had played the previous two games at a rebounding disadvantage but came through on Thursday to keep it even. They were able to outshoot the Cavs in the second half – 51 percent to 44 percent – but could only match their scoring in the third and fourth quarters.
It just looked like the inexperience of the Celtics showed at critical times throughout the game to allow the Cavs to hold onto the lead. A Celtics win during this game would have altered the series drastically, but the experience and depth of the Cavs has just been too much for Boston.
Who Wins Game 4?
Cleveland. The Cavs will close the series down on Sunday afternoon to sweep the Celtics in four games. The Celtics fought hard all series, but just lacked the experience needed to compete.
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