The Cavaliers looked like they were well on their way to an easy win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Celtics came back from a 21-point third quarter deficit to win 111-108. Avery Bradley nailed the game winner with 0.1 seconds left.
The Celtics, missing their leader and best player in Isaiah Thomas, scratched and clawed their way back in the game, and the Cavs just never got the momentum back in their favor. They made a huge run in the third quarter, as the Cavs opened up a 77-56 lead before the Celtics closed the margin to just five by the end of the quarter, 87-82. They continued their run into the fourth quarter, taking a 99-98 lead late on a flip shot from Kelly Olynyk.
The Celtics had their best offensive game of this series in this game, which is shocking considering they were without their best offensive player tonight, but their ball movement was fantastic (the ball tends to stick in Thomas’ hands when he's out there), and it produced favorable results for them, as they were getting a number of open shots and were making them at an absurd clip (18-40 from three).
Marcus Smart led Boston, scoring 27 points on 8-14 shooting (7-10 from three). The Cavs allowed the Celtics to find a rhythm offensively without one of the best offensive players in the league, and tonight, they paid the price.
On the positive side, it looks like Kyrie Irving has effectively bounced back from his shooting slump from the first two rounds of the playoffs, as he scored 29 points on 15 shots to go with seven assists. Kevin Love was also good again tonight, especially from downtown, where he scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and nailed seven threes.
Tristan Thompson had his best game of the postseason tonight, but it wasn't just because of his rebounding and effort. He shot 12-15 from the free throw line, a shocking development from a player who shot 49.8 percent from the line in the regular season.
LeBron James finally looked human tonight, only scoring 11 points on 4-13 shooting to go with six assists and six rebounds.
With no Thomas, the outcome of this series feels like it has been determined regardless of the outcome tonight, but the Celtics made it hard on the Cavs, a team known to play down to their competition at times, and they paid for it.
Game 4 tips off in Cleveland on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m.