Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

May 26, 2017, 12:50
Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Despite the challenge, the Cavs lead the Eastern Conference finals 3-1 and can close out the series with a Game 5 win at TD Garden on Thursday.

James, determined to bounce back after a poor 11-point haul in Game 3, then steadied the Cleveland nerves in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cavaliers home for the win as Boston's courageous effort came up short. Perhaps foreshadowing what's to come from him in Game 4, James is averaging 24.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in the nine playoff games following such a loss (the 10th game will be Tuesday).

Irving stayed on the floor and finished the game, but with a day off between games there will be interest in how tender his ankle is at tipoff.

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James took just three shots in that fourth quarter and missed them all. "We were playing way better", Stevens said. "They answered back with everything we answered".

The Celtics, who are missing their best player, injured guard Isaiah Thomas, led by as many as 16 points in the first half and appeared primed to stun Cleveland again while James flirted with trouble. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

"I'm telling my guys on the court the whole entire game, we've seen this before, we've been through this, we've experienced this, and we're going to get through this, and from that point on, it clicked", Irving said. "We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him".

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LeBron James has had more than 24 hours to think about his freaky performance in the Cleveland Cavaliers' stunning Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday. "I thought we got stops, but we didn't play with that speed, that pace and that force that we've been playing with". Coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe that forward Amir Johnson has a sprained right shoulder and is questionable for Game 4.

In fact, those games should be easy to remember because they are so rare.

"I thought that we played, you know, as well as we've played maybe the entire playoffs in the first half". That's where he's big for this team and of course all the movement and stuff is good, but then there comes a time where, 'OK, we need a basket. Stevens started Kelly Olynyk, who had 15 points. The Celtics used their third different starting lineup in four games against Cleveland. J.R. Smith and his wife, Jewel, brought their daughter home after more than five months in the hospital following her premature birth. The Cavs had a 13-game unbeaten streak going with James in top form, on the verge of penciling in his name above those of Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar in the playoff record books.

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