The Cavs toyed with us again. Probably the most confusing team in the NBA, the defending champs looked both like a lottery team and a championship contender in the same game. Nothing epitomized the way this season has gone quite like LeBron James picking up his 4th personal foul with over 6 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter with the Cavs down 13. Ultimately, the lead got to as many as 16 with James on the bench, before Kyrie Irving took over, scoring 10 straight points and cutting the lead to 10 at halftime.
And then, it happened again. The Cavs flipped the switch.
Kyrie Irving went absolutely crazy, scoring 21 points in the 3rd quarter, including a deep, stepback three that increased the lead to seven heading into the 4th quarter. Ultimately, the Cavaliers pulled away, winning the game going away.
What went well
In James’ absence, Kyrie Irving was absolutely magical, totaling 42 points on a scorching 15-for-22 shooting. It seemed like it had been awhile since we truly had gotten to see vintage Kyrie Irving, but he was doing it all Tuesday night. Irving had Boston defenders searching for answers on fantastic finishes at the rim and long-distance three-pointers.
As good as Irving was in the 3rd quarter, James was equally as good closing the game out in the 4th quarter. James scored 15 points in the frame. Whatever hampered James in Game 3 was shaken off. In all, James scored 24 points in the second half and 34 for the game, and did so while shooting 15-for-27.
Oh, and by the way, all Kevin Love did was tally 17 points and grab 17 rebounds.
In all, the Cavaliers found their energy in the second quarter and came out looking to send a message in the second half. Offensively, the pace was much faster and the Cavaliers’ energy lead to a relentless attack of the basket. Defensively, the effort was much more evident, as well. Even Chris Webber and Reggie Miller, who were calling the game on TNT, remarked that the Cavaliers’ defensive effort had greatly improved. Ball pressure was there, shot contests were there, and overall, the Cavaliers completed a very effective second half.
Although the Cavaliers had us momentarily scared that they had completely lost their mojo, they found what they were looking for on Tuesday night. Fans learned what they can expect from this team going forward: unpredictability. At least the moment, whatever hampered the Cavs for the last two quarters of Game 3 and the first quarter of Game 4 seems to have been solved.
Game 4 was a back-breaker for the Celtics, who spent a lot of energy in stealing Game 3 and grinding with the Cavaliers as long as they did on Tuesday. This series will end on Thursday in Boston and the Cavaliers will not be blowing a 3-1 lead in their quest for a second consecutive championship.