clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 things we learned from Celtics-Cavs game 3

The Cavs didn’t play that hard and lost as a result.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This is probably my fault. I haven’t written about the Cavs in this space forever, and the one time I volunteer to take a bit for someone because of scheduling this happens. I am doom to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Allow me to apologize.

Many takes are currently being crafted. Most of them are not so great but that’s where we are. The Cavs ability to completely lose focus and forget how to play basketball has earned them that, BUT that’s the Cavs, this is part of the package. Now lets get to some learnings.

LeBron James can be bad and that’s ok.

LeBron James is the best player on this planet, without question. So, if you read the header and want to get mad, move along. Everyone is allowed a bad game, and boy, was he bad. LeBron had 6 turnovers to 6 assists, shot 4-13 from the field finishing with 11 points, and didn’t look engaged on defense for more than a few possessions. On a night when Kyrie Irving scored 29 and Kevin Love had 28, anything approaching even an average to below average LeBron game wins this. This is the weirdest I’ve seen LeBron since that series in 2011. Coming out so passive any day is bizarre, but on a day when history was on the line more so. A win would have put the Cavs alone in NBA history with 14 straight playoff wins. A 30 point game would put LeBron by himself for most consecutive playoff games with such a total. For him to look so off is just shocking, especially given he had been playing the basketball I’ve ever seen anyone play. Ever.

STILL, LeBron is LeBron, he will answer. He always does. A lit drama does his body good.

Sometimes, you lose a bet

Maybe the only thing more unpredictable than a bad LeBron game is Marcus Smart hitting seven threes in a game. Marcus Smart, career 29 percent three-point shooter and 28 percent this season. You’re BEGGING him to shoot, and he hit them. Pull ups early in the clock, late clock leaks, what have you. These are the shots you scheme your defense to allow, and this time Boston got the better of it. In the second half, the Cavs were 2/17 from deep, and Smart was 5/6. Ability to hit threes becomes even more important when LeBron has a game where he isn’t attacking and his handle is shaky. With ball movement down, the Cavs didn’t cash in on what they needed to and their defensive bets didn’t hit.

The Cavs biggest obstacle in the East is still themselves

I know this seems mean, and the Celtics certainly tried very hard and earned a victory, but c’mon. The Cavs have now lost three games in the past two playoffs pre-Finals and in all three they spent huge portions unfocused and lethargic, almost annoyed at the effort level of the other team. They dodged several self inflicted wounds in the Pacers series, and needed the NBA’s largest playoff comeback to avoid scrutiny for a particularly disjointed performance for the first 24 minutes.

Just when you think the Cavs are beyond their lackadaisical ways, they throw this one at you. Let downs when the other team is missing their best player are normal in the regular season, but shouldn’t be something you fall prey to in the playoffs. In your first home game in a few weeks, no less.

The Cavs will play again Tuesday. There will be many words spoken about them until then. Maybe even some typed. Some will be neither, sent instead in the form of the knowing glances one got accustomed to in March and April. All signs point to a blip, and hopefully they’ll have something better for us. We’ll see you then.