Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Irving's 42, LeBron's 34 pushes Cavs past Celtics in Game 4

Isaac Mcdaniel | 25 May, 2017, 09:45

In the aftermath of the 111-108 Game 3 loss to the Boston Celtics, Lue in particular downplayed the defeat as fluky, citing an uncharacteristically bad night from LeBron James and equally unexpected strong shooting night from Marcus Smart. The Boston Celtics were down by as many as 21 points while down 0-2 in the series without their leader, Isaiah Thomas.

LeBron James praised Stevens more directly when discussing how the Celtics "run different things" after losing Thomas to injury.

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) looks to pass around Boston Celtics' Jae Crowder (99) during the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Cleveland. His absence allowed the Kyrie Irving Show to take the stage. The Celtics were scrambling by then, forgetting how they built their lead.

Cleveland leads the series 2-1. "Didn't look good, but (Irving) said he's fine, got back up, continued to play, made some big shots". And a hero he became, again.

Even before the Cleveland Cavaliers left Boston following a dominant performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, small forward Richard Jefferson talked about the importance of closing out any game strong.

"In the back of my mind, I thought, 'They can't tie up the series, '" he said. They can not, " said Irving.

The Celtics are operating on a more limited pre-draft workout schedule right now. Same thing happened a year ago versus Toronto.

The Warriors maintained a 14-point cushion at half-time to lead 65-51 and opened the second half with a 25-foot three-pointer from Thompson to make it 68-51.

Thereafter the Warriors comfortably kept the Spurs at arm's length, with their multifaceted offense proving too much for San Antonio. Turns out Irving was just getting warmed up en route to scorching.

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Freezing Boston defenders with his dribble and driving to the basket whenever he wanted, Irving made six layups, two 3-pointers and a free throw in a dizzying span of 4:48.

James, Irving and Love were the only 3 Cavs players to make double digits.

As far as the incident with the fan, we can only assume it was because the guy heckled the Cavaliers superstar, so he played his "I'm LeBron James, Superstar" card and had the fan dismissed from Quicken Loans Arena. "As the stakes get higher and higher, his game gets higher and higher".

Irving morphed into a flamethrower once he was the one being relied on to put points on the board. The Hall of Famer. The one who got hosed by the Dream Team. James' second half, meanwhile, saw him shoot 1-for-8 with one rebound, one assist, one steal and three turnovers as he scored three points in 22 minutes.Smart played all but 37 seconds of the second half and Stevens had the ball in his hands all night. Despite the fact that he was averaging 21 points and 5.3 assists on 59.5 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 percent from three through the first three games, he never had one of his "Kyrie moments". Stepping up in his absence has been Thomas' fellow backcourt mate, Avery Bradley.

Thomas met with a specialist on Tuesday to determine whether surgery would be necessary to fix his injured hip. Tristan Thompson scored 18 points. But it refused to fall, Love buried a 3 on the other end, and it was all over but the final accounting.

In what could have been the last postgame press conference of his 14-year National Basketball Association career, Manu Ginobili described to reporters the magnitude of the Spurs' task against the Warriors with a metaphor in his native tongue. But this to me was a flawless example [of the Cavs saying] 'We're going to win the series.

"All the [counter moves], and he's able to shoot the ball, " said a gracious Bradley, beginning to list Irving's strengths during his postgame interview session. "As much as you want to, it's not over", he said. He's a great finisher.

Including Sunday, James now has 10 games in his career with 15 points or less in a postseason loss. It truly did take heart to come back in a game like that.

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