It was far from beautiful basketball, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have pulled even in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were able to hold off the Boston Celtics and come away with a 111-102 victory.
LeBron James brought a scorers mentality to the game, scoring 44 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. But while his assist total was low (also paired with 7 turnovers), he didn’t dominate the ball in the same way he did in the first two games in Boston.
The Cavs were able to achieve good movement offensively, even in a very physically and tightly officiated game. There weren’t prolonged stretches of stagnant offense, which was helped by assertive play from George Hill.
On the Celtics side, the perimeter attack of Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Jayson Tatum was their most consistently effective form of attack. While they didn’t shoot particularly well, they hit some timely shots that often were fairly contested.
Boston went with an eight man rotation and with Al Horford struggling, they just weren’t able to get enough help to capitalize on the opportunities the Cavs were giving them.
Kyle Korver and Tristan Thompson were phenomenal in this matchup, as their off ball activity helped generate movement within the offense. The gravity they generate on the floor, as a shooter and as a roll man really helped free up the team’s offense. As an added bonus, they both contributed on the defensive end as well.
Thompson had one of the best games he’s had all season and a throwback to his pre-injury play. His presence helped limit Horford’s aggressiveness and he came up large as a help defender as well. With 13 points, 12 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 2 assists, you can’t expect much more out of the Cavs center.
The Cavs have a quick turnaround now as they head over to Boston on Wednesday night. This series has turned into a best of three and with how well Boston has played at home, Cleveland can probably expect their best shot in Game 5.