Cleveland, Ohio, USA; The Cleveland Cavaliers had 18 turnovers and still defeated the Boston Celtics by double digits, 111-102, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Wednesday night, fuelled by Lebron James with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.
Kyle Korver scored 14 points (all in the first half) for the fourth-seeded Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson recorded 13 points and 12 rebounds, George Hill scored 13 points and Kevin Love collected 11 rebounds while scoring nine points.
Jaylen Brown scored 25 points and Jayson Tatum had 17 for the second-seeded Celtics, who dropped to 1-6 on the road this postseason. Terry Rozier notched 16 points and 11 assists, Al Horford tallied 15 points and Marcus Morris scored 10.
Cleveland is trying to become the 20th team — out of 300 — to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies and is seeking his eighth straight finals, is a step closer to a third. Cavaliers won their seventh straight playoff game at home but in order to do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.
Lebron James moved past Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for the most field goals in playoff history. James also recorded his 25th career postseason game with at least 40 points — his sixth in this postseason.
Boston’s starters held their own, but none of them was able to match James when it mattered most.
James scored 22 points in the first half as the Cavaliers led 68-53 at the break.
Boston got some open looks, but shot just 27 percent (7 of 26) in the first 12 minutes with both Tatum and Brown missing dunks. Also, Morris picked up three quick fouls.
Cleveland led by 15 at halftime but saw Love head to the bench with this fifth foul with 7:40 left in the third quarter as Boston crept within 11. The Celtics later trailed 80-72 after Tatum’s basket with 3:40 remaining in the quarter before the Cavaliers answered with a 9-2 surge to push the lead back to 15.
Cleveland shot 50.6 from the field on Monday and had a 47-37 rebounding edge. Boston shot 41.2 percent from the floor.
Hill’s basket gave the Cavaliers a 96-81 lead with 9:53 remaining in the contest before the Celtics rattled off eight straight points. Love and James responded with back-to-back baskets to increase the Cleveland margin to 100-89.
Boston again was within seven after Marcus Smart’s bucket with 4:29 left, but Thompson and James scored consecutive baskets to again push the Cavaliers’ lead to 11. Hill followed with a 12-foot floater to give Cleveland a 106-93 advantage with 2:36 left.
James drained a 3-pointer with 1:43 left to record his sixth 40-point outing of this postseason and give the Cavaliers a 109-95 lead. Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson (2001) is the most recent player to have six 40-point performances in a single playoff year.
Game 5 will be played in Boston on Wednesday.