But LeBron James' top sidekick got up, and he's leading the charge in a prospective Cavs runaway as the fourth quarter gets underway in Game 4.
Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue refused to point the finger of blame at LeBron James on Monday, May 22 (Tuesday Manila time) a day after a woeful performance from the National Basketball Association star gave the Boston Celtics a postseason lifeline. He took just three shots and didn't attempt a free throw in the fourth quarter. James finished with 34 points and had a strong second half.
In a game that featured LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, Smart was the best player on the floor. The Cavs will look to come out with a renewed focus in tonight's game based on their "letdown" in the previous contest.
Of course, LeBron's not the only player on the team. No sooner had last week's wild draft lottery dropped off the radar of the league's devoted UFO spotters ("Lemme guess: Boston goes first, then Lakers at No. 2?) up popped Game 3 Sunday between the Celtics and Cavaliers". "I mean, LeBron James understands how to play the game and he understands what this (Cleveland) team needs from him". It was James' lowest scoring output in a playoff game since a 7-point performance on 2-for-10 shooting against the Pacers, while with Miami, on May 28, 2014."He's human, so he's going to have a night like this", said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue."We need to rally around and play for him and play for our team", he said, "because our season is on the line". People of his stature, well, there's only three, but people like him, you gotta play confident the whole night and play aggressive. It's the Eastern Conference finals. It's not enough, for him, for what he does, for what he brings.
"I feel like we're humble enough to know we haven't played well at home", he said.
The Boston Celtics had to be feeling good at halftime Tuesday night.
Asked for the keys to Game 4, he simply said "win" and walked away. "But give (the Celtics) credit".More news: BTG plc (BTG) Stock Rating Reaffirmed by Panmure Gordon
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Oh, and we have to include this one too. Irving led all scorers in the first half with 18 points.
As the third game showed, now that the Celtics are without Thomas, there's that "unknown factor" in terms of who might emerge as their star.
Irving's 20-point third quarter put the Cavs in front, with James then stepping back into the game to close out a relatively comfortable victory. After erasing a 21-point deficit, Avery Bradley won the game 111-108 for the Celtics on a three-ball that danced on the rim before falling through. Jae Crowder thought the Celtics should have loaded up on Irving, once he reached nirvana, to force the ball out of his hands.
Irving had led a 17-point swing in the quarter. Two of those turnovers came in the first five minutes of the game. Jonas Jerebko and Jaylen Brown each had nine points off the bench. Hammond replaces Rob Hennigan, who was sacked last month after the Magic failed to make the playoffs during his five-year tenure. The Celtics open as 15-point underdogs, with the spread set at 15.5 on Bovada. At this point, security steps in and the fan was removed.
Game five takes place in Boston on Thursday evening (01:30 BST on Friday). Eastern Time on Tuesday evening. The Celtics' rhythm was gone offensively.
Regardless of what the rest of the world expected when the series moved to Cleveland, the Celtics believed they could win.