Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
James, determined to bounce back after a poor 11-point haul in Game 3, then steadied the Cleveland nerves in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cavaliers home for the win as Boston's fearless effort came up short.
It was a tail of two halves, as foul trouble for LeBron James gave the Celtics an opportunity to establish a 10 point lead, despite Kyrie Irving hitting nine of his last 10 shots in the second quarter.
Irving said the Cavs reckoned with themselves at halftime.
"I'm telling my guys on the court the whole entire game, we've seen this before, we've been through this, we've experienced this, and we're going to get through this, and from that point on, it clicked", Irving said.
"We know what we did wrong in game three". Assuming the Cavaliers get the final victory they need to secure passage to the NBA Finals on Thursday night, the two teams will meet for a third straight season with a title on the line.
On a night when the Celtics could have easily won, a night when the great LeBron James picked up four first-half fouls for the first time in his National Basketball Association playoff career, Irving took over and stole the show.
"We're just focused on Boston", Lue said, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
Speaking to reporters after his dominant performance, Irving gave the Celtics credit for making the Cavs battle for every last point.
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And then handing the ball to Kyrie Irving, getting out of the way, and watching him bring the team to the doorstep of the NBA Finals.
"We've been in that position before", Love said. Especially after Cleveland's blistering loss to Boston in Game 3 Sunday. That's what great teams do. "We cannot go to Boston 2-2 and then it becomes almost an even series".Despite their collection of talent, the Cleveland Cavaliers have often gone as LeBron James goes since he returned to Cleveland.Crowder led all scorers with 11 points, while Olynyk and Bradley both finished the quarter with six points.
Could the Cavs have conceivably gone into Boston after losing Game 4, beat them by 20 and then wrapped it up in six?
The Celtics had a 29-19 lead at the end of the quarter. Not only did the Celtics maintain the offensive and defensive pressure, but James also picked up his fourth personal at he 6:46 mark and was forced to the bench with the Cavs trailing, 43-33.
Yet, Lue said that the Celtics' unpredictability - born out of necessity, with Thomas' shutting down his season at halftime of Game 2 because of a hip injury - has made things hard after the coach had to scrap his defensive orders all catered toward limiting Thomas.
Since Lebron's return home, Irving has adjusted his role to be a better teammate, a better 3-point shooter, and a better passer.
Boston owned the first half, finishing with 21 made baskets while limiting the Cavaliers to 17. It may not be enough to win again SU, but covering for the third straight time versus the Cavs is doable for the Celts in this spot.
"I was saying to myself, 'They can not tie up this series'".
They did. And they built a 16-point lead, before the Cleveland stars, more notable Irving, stole the game right back. It was their first lead since early in the opening quarter. And he did so with a dazzling array of drives to the basket and lengthy three-point shots, and even inspired the crowd by overcoming rolling his ankle in the third quarter. But a quick review of the record shows this wasn't his only playoff clunker.