After two disappointing losses in TD Garden, the Cavs were in need of a momentum shifting Game 3.
After coming out and executing the game plan from the opening tip, that’s exactly what they got in their 116-86 all-around team win on Saturday night.
The game was never really in doubt from about midway in the first quarter onward. The Cavaliers led by as many as 30 points, and led by double figures for the final 42 minutes of the game.
The Cavs had six players finish in double-digits. LeBron James ended the game with 27 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. Kyle Korver added 14, while Kevin Love had a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. George Hill also added 13, while J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson added in 11 and 10 points respectively.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 18 points.
James got the help he desperately needed as far as another facilitator goes in the form of Hill. In the first quarter, the duo combined for 23 of the Cavs’ 32 points and four of their five team assists.
On both ends of the floor, the Cavs were playing with more of a sense of urgency. They were swinging the ball, something that they stressed over the last three days. Combined with Hill looking to attack, they were getting plenty of open looks as a result and jumped out to a 32-17 lead.
The 17 points the Cavs allowed were the fewest they have allowed in a first quarter so far this postseason, while their six three-pointers (three of which came from Hill) tied their best quarter this postseason.
Overall, they forced the Celtics to take a lot of contested, mid-range jumpers, something Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged in his postgame press conference. Defensively, they didn’t blitz Jayson Tatum as much and focused more of their energy on Jaylen Brown. Tatum had 13 points at halftime to lead Boston, while Brown had just two.
At halftime the Cavs had a 20-point lead as James led the way with 19.
That ball-movement was never more evident than in the third quarter, as the Cavs avoided one of their characteristic second-half slumps. By the time the frame ended, the Cavs had all five of their starters in double-figures, accounting for 74 of their 87 points.
In the fourth quarter, Kyle Korver and Jordan Clarkson helped the Cavaliers keep the game firmly out of reach, scoring nine points apiece and guiding the Cavs into garbage time.
Up next: The Cavs will look to even the series in Game 4 on Monday night. Tip-off from Quicken Loans Arena is at 8:30 p.m.