Celtics vs Cavaliers Game 3: Will Boston Dethrone the King?

LeBron James
LeBron James and the Cavaliers are on the ropes, down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Final. Photo by Ian D'Andrea (Flickr) [CC License]
  • The Celtics are closing in on ending King James’ reign in the East
  • The Cavaliers face a virtual must-win situation in Game 3
  • Boston’s collection of talent is overwhelming LeBron James

That thud you heard was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ backs collectively getting pushed up against the wall.

The Boston Celtics have a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, and seek a stranglehold when the scene shifts to the Q in Cleveland for Game 3 on Saturday.

LeBron James, criticized for a no-show in Game 1, brought out his signature bounce back performance, racing out to a 21-point first quarter, en route to a 42-point triple-double. It was already his fifth such 40-point outburst this postseason, but, unlike the previous four, it wasn’t enough for the W.

Instead, it was another victory-by-committee performance from the Celtics, who absorbed the early punch, and took charge in the second half, outscoring the Cavaliers 59-39, turning a seven-point deficit into a 13-point triumph.

The Celtics absorbed the early punch, and took charge in the second half, outscoring the Cavaliers 59-39.

You can literally point up and down the lineup to find the outstanding performances – there really were that many. Let’s start with “Scary” Terry Rozier, who came to life after halftime, with 14 third quarter points to shift the momentum.

Marcus Smart was also a star in this one, coming off the bench to make several key plays, which always seemed to come at the most opportune time for the Celtics.

Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers Team Playoff Stats

OFFENSE

Celtics
VS
Cavaliers

107.7 Offensive Rating 110.6
104.6 Points 101.2
21.8 Assists 19.5
45.0 Field-Goal Percentage 45.8
35.8 Three-Point Percentage 33.6
+4.1 Plus/Minus -1.7

DEFENSE

Celtics
VS
Cavaliers

104.0 Defensive Rating 109.5
100.5 Points 102.8
+0.2 Rebounding Differential -1.8
-1.2 Turnover Differential -0.4
45.9 Field-Goal Percentage 47.7
33.0 Three-Point Percentage 35.6
44.1 Points In The Paint 40.3

Head-to-Head Results

Date Location Score Winner
May 15 – Playoff (Game 2 ECF) BOS 107-94 BOS
May 13 – Playoff (Game 1 ECF) BOS 108-83 BOS
Feb. 11 – Regular Season BOS 121-99 CLE
Jan. 3 – Regular Season BOS 102-88 BOS
Oct. 17 – Regular Season CLE 102-99 CLE

Notable Injuries and Absences

CELTICS CAVALIERS
Daniel Theis (leg): OUT No injuries
 Shane Larkin (shoulder): OUT

 Straight Up Advice: Cavaliers (118-109)

If this is indeed LeBron James’ last stand, he’s not going to go out via the brooms.

There’s just no way, not in the East, at least. But it’s not going to be easy.

The Celtics are getting contributions from across the roster, and they’ve had numerous players carry them for stretches on the offensive end, while maintaining that Grade A defense.

Boston shot only 43.5% from the field, but took 12 more shots than the Cavs by virtue of 11 offensive rebounds.

The difference in this contest were the other stats that lined up in Boston’s favour. They shot only 43.5% from the field, but took 12 more shots than the Cavs by virtue of 11 offensive rebounds and a plus-10 advantage in the turnover department.

For the second straight game, all of Cleveland’s starters were minuses. Only Kevin Love with 22 points and 15 rebounds, offered much support to James, who, despite claiming he was fine after the game, looked woozy when he took a Jayson Tatum shoulder to the chin.

The Cavs are getting ghost contributions that will need to change. The starting backcourt of JR Smith and George Hill shot a combined 1-for-11 for three points. Meanwhile, Jeff Green was a disaster, scoring just six points, turning the ball over five times, and having a team-worst minus-17 in just 28 minutes of work.

The time off and change of scenery should help, as Boston’s home dominance (now 9-0 this postseason) has not translated well to the road, where they are just 1-4, and have scored just 94.6 points per game. Boston’s lone win, however, was an OT thriller against Philadelphia in Game 3, to take a 3-0 series lead.

But rest easy, Cavs fans. Talk of an end to LeBron’s Finals run will be put off – for at least one game.

Team Trends

CELTICS CAVALIERS
Boston is 28-17 SU on the road Cleveland is 34-13 SU at home
Boston is 8-2 SU in its last ten games Cleveland is 6-4 SU in its last ten games
Boston is 18-14 SU as an underdog  Cleveland is 45-27SU as a favorite
Boston is 39-24-1 ATS after a win Cleveland is 11-24-1 ATS after a loss
Boston is 61-33-2 ATS this season (64.9%) Cleveland is 35-59-1 ATS this season (37.2%)
Boston is 29-16-0 ATS on the road Cleveland is 14-32-1 ATS at home