Before taking the floor [url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/ben-roethlisberger-jersey-authentic]Womens Ben Roethlisberger Jersey[/url] , LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside Cleveland’s locker room and pounded his chest with both hands.
The Celtics got thumped next.
James had 27 points and 12 assists, Kevin Love added 14 rebounds and the Cavaliers looked like a different team on their home court, tightening the Eastern Conference finals with a 116-86 victory in Game 3 over Boston on Saturday night.
Outplayed during two losses in Boston, the Cavs used a three-day break in the series to regroup and re-grip this series. With James leading the way, they built a 19-point lead in the first quarter, pushed it to 30 in the second half and overpowered the Celtics, who fell to 1-5 on the road in the postseason.
Any discussion of Cleveland’s demise is premature. Kyle Korver made four of the team’s 17 3-pointers, six players scored in double figures and the Cavs, who have spent the season seeking chemistry and cohesion, were connected defensively.
”Even when things broke down, we just covered for one another,” James said. ”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.”
Game 4 is Monday night before the series returns to Boston.
Jaylen Brown was in foul trouble all night and scored just 10 for the Celtics after averaging 23 in the first two games. Jayson Tatum scored 18 and Terry Rozier 13 for Boston, which couldn’t match Cleveland in any aspect.
”They took it to us,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ”Point blank: They just outplayed us.”
Only 19 of a possible 300 teams have ever overcome a 2-0 deficit in the playoffs. James and the Cavs [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-golden-tate-iii-jersey]Golden Tate Jersey White[/url] , who previously did it in 2007 and again in 2016 while winning the NBA title, took the first step toward a third comeback.
To return to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, the Cavs have to win four of five and re-write Boston’s illustrious history. The Celtics are 37-0 when they win the first two games in a series.
The Cavs came in wanting to play faster and be more physical with the younger Celtics, who were the aggressors in Games 1 and 2.
Not this time.
”The toughest team sets the rules,” Rozier said. ”They came out aggressive from the jump and never looked back. We’ve got to play aggressive from the rip. Tonight, we were all over the place, playing too fast and doing things we didn’t want to do.”
The Cavs needed more from point guard George Hill after two poor performances (8 points, 1 assist) in Boston. Hill responded with a driving layup to start the game and drained three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Cleveland wasted no time taking control.
Hill finished with 13, J.R. Smith 11 – they were outscored 41-3 in Game 2 – and Cleveland’s supporting cast played so well that James was only on the floor for 37 minutes.
Stevens was confident his team would play better on the road than earlier in these playoffs, but the Celtics were shaky early, committing four turnovers and shooting 2 of 10 while the Cavs opened a 27-11 lead.
James said earlier Saturday the fact he has twice rallied from 2-0 deficits in the postseason offered no relief.
”There’s nothing about the playoffs that’s comfortable until you either win it all or you lose and go into the summer,” he said.
Summer might not be as close as it once seemed.
Celtics: Seeking to become the sixth No. 2 seed to win the East in eight years. Boston was a No. 4 seed when it advanced to the finals in 2010. … Fell to 3-8 in playoff games in Cleveland, the most by a Cavs opponent at the Q. … Stevens was relieved to learn that Boston legend Bill Russell was recovering after a hospital stay brought on by dehydration. Russell won 11 NBA titles with the Celtics. ”He’s the ultimate basketball winner,” Stevens said. ”The way he impacted winning, the unselfishness of a teammate [url=http://www.kansascitychiefsteamonline.com/kareem-hunt-jersey]Womens Kareem Hunt Jersey[/url] , what he stood for off the floor – everything about him.”
Cavaliers: James needs six field goals to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for the most in postseason history. … Cleveland has won six straight playoff games at home. … Improved to 14-6 vs. Boston in the playoffs.
The Cavs focused their defense on slowing Brown, and it worked. He was 3 of 8 from the floor and never found his flow after getting two early fouls.
”They were denying me the ball, and when I did get it, it was in positions that I’m not comfortable in,” he said. ”Give credit to Cleveland. They were physical and we settled for jumpers too much.”
The long layoff between Games 2 and 3 revived the Cavs.
”It was three days of stewing on Game 2,” Korver said. ”It probably did something good in us. It’s frustrating to have to wait that long for another game. We were able to put in some new things on offense, too.”
Before the game, Stevens downplayed his team’s road issues, saying there was a ”small sample size.”
It got a little bigger, and a little more troubling. Still, he won’t focus on Boston’s road woes.
”In my 11 years as a head coach, I probably haven’t talked about road and home five times with our team,” he said. ”It’s about how you play between the lines. Because I think if you start talking about that, then you find excuses in both places. We can’t play like we played tonight no matter where we played. If we would have played in Boston like that [url=http://www.panthersfootballauthentic.com/luke-kuechly-jersey-authentic]Youth Luke Kuechly Jersey[/url] , we Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was suspended for one game Thursday for an illegal check to the head of Vegas Golden Knights forward William Carrier during Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
”I thought it was a bad hit, but it’s not for me to decide,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said after Vegas’ 1-0 victory Wednesday night. ”The referee didn’t think it was a penalty but I’m sure people will look at that hit and make a decision on it.”
Doughty will miss Game 2 on Friday night in Las Vegas. He delivered the blow at 9:58 of the third period, sending Carrier to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
”I thought you had two teams that played a real good hard, honest game,” Los Angeles coach John Stevens said following his team’s practice on Thursday. ”That was my interpretation. I think both teams upped their intensity and both teams understand the importance of the battle on the puck and there’s usually some kind of physical confrontation that comes from that.”
Golden Knights enforcer Ryan Reaves, who was a healthy scratch for Game 1, didn’t agree with the hit.
”Obviously, it’s a hit to the head, it was pretty blatant,” Reaves said. ”I don’t know if the ref maybe had a bad angle on it, but I’m sure the league will deal with it the way they need to. You never need to hit a guy in the jaw. … If I’m in that game I’d probably try and go do something about it. Maybe I can calm that situation down.”
Vegas wing James Neal, who played with defending Western Conference champion Nashville last season, said the Golden Knights knew things could get heated against the Kings.
”When you play teams like L.A., a heavy team [url=http://www.tampabaybuccaneersteamonline.com/jameis-winston-jersey]Authentic Jameis Winston Jersey[/url] , it’s going to be a physical game,” Neal said. ”We knew what to expect, especially being Game 1 of the playoffs. Everything’s ramped up a little bit extra, guys are out there going a little quicker, it was definitely physical.”
And while the Kings outhit Vegas, 68-59, Stevens scoffed at the notion Game 1 was an overly physical game.
”I think the teams played hard, I’m not sure where that number comes from, but I don’t think anybody would be playing tomorrow if those numbers were accurate,” Stevens said. ”I don’t want to sound disrespectful when I say this, but sometimes I don’t even know where they’re situated when they are marking those stats. There’s such a variety in the way those are gauged building to building that we usually go and look at our own stats.”
Said Kings wing Dustin Brown: ”It was a physical game, (but) I don’t think there was nearly as many hits as the stats credited. Some buildings you can kill a guy and not get credit for a hit.”
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