Written by: Josh Gutbrod
With the new Solo movie coming out, it is only fitting that the evil empire of the Eastern Conference pushed back against the rebellious and gritty Boston Celtics. That is exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers did Saturday evening. Led by another LeBron James double-double (27 points w/ 12 assists) the Cavaliers routed Boston 116-86. The home win for the Cavaliers brings the series to a much more manageable 2-1 deficit.
The outcome was almost never in doubt. Cleveland was leading 32-17 after the first quarter and never looked back. Boston did not outscore the Cavaliers in a single quarter of Game 3. The steady dominance from the Cavaliers allowed the lead to grow from the early 15 points to the final of 30 almost effortlessly.
The supporting cast for Cleveland played a big part in the win. Following Game 2, shooting guard JR Smith had told reporters the rest of the Cavs had to do more to help LeBron. The King’s supporting cast answered Smith’s call in Game 3 with five non-LeBrons posting double figures in the game. Smith himself finished with 11 points on 3/4 shooting from behind the 3 point line.
Despite the offensive production, the Cavalier defense was what really stole the show Saturday night. The 2nd worst regular season defense managed to hold Boston to 39% shooting from the floor and 27% shooting from three. The Celtics also had 15 turnovers, nine of which came directly from Cavalier steals. Two of the nine steals for the Cavaliers came from James. The perennial MVP candidate also added two blocks to his defensive efforts.
The Cavaliers still have a long way to go before they are back in the NBA Finals but a convincing Game 3 win was a great first step. The team needed to do more than simply beat the Celtics. Cleveland needed to prove it could demolish Boston.
The 30 point victory in Game 3 certainly did just that. Monday’s Game 4 now becomes a crucial game in the series as the Cavs look to even things up a 2-2 while the Celtics look to steal a commanding 3-1 lead. Look for a massive stat line from James and a much-improved effort from the Celtics in such a pivotal game.