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Dose: Cavs Cruise In Game 3

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Well, we have ourselves a series. Facing a must-win situation in Game 3, the Cavs left no doubt they are capable of competing with the gritty Celtics on Saturday night. In fact, Cleveland showed they have the ability and talent to demolish Boston when they play with the requisite effort and focus, especially on the defensive end.


The Cavs jumped out to an early lead in this one and never took their foot off the gas. Cleveland led by double-figures six minutes into the game and never saw their lead shrink below 10 points the rest of the game as they cruised to an easy 116-86 victory. The Cavs now trail Boston 2-1 in the series.


LeBron James, who came out supremely aggressive in Game 2, was more a facilitator early on in Game 3, attempting to set up his teammates and build their confidence. James finished with 27 points, five rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes. He shot 8-of-12 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. LeBron was dishing out beautiful dimes all night. His teammates finished the game 12-of-19 off his passes.


After an abysmal performance in Game 2, in which they combined for just three total points on 1-of-11 shooting, the Cavs starting backcourt of George Hill and J.R. Smith showed up and stepped up on Saturday. Hill scored 13 points with three rebounds, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Smith had 11 points, five boards and three treys. These two will need to continue to play well going forward. Backup guard Kyle Korver simply did not miss. He was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor, including four triples, for his 14 points. The Cavs are now 6-1 this postseason when they knock down 11 or more 3-pointers. They are 3-4 when they make 10 or fewer.


Kevin Love struggled with his shot (4-of-12), but pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds and dished out four assists to go along with his 12 points. Tristan Thompson (10 points and seven rebounds) provided the energy, effort and aggressiveness coach Ty Lue was hoping for. Larry Nance Jr. also provided a valuable spark off the bench. Nance tallied eight points (on 4-of-4 shooting), six rebounds, three assists and three steals.


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As is often the case when you are blown out by 30 points, there isn’t much positivity to report from the Boston side. Jayson Tatum led the C’s in scoring with 18 points, but had just one assist and one rebound. Terry Rozier shot 5-of-12 from the floor for 13 points with three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes. Al Horford tallied seven points, seven rebounds, four assists, and one 3-pointer in 30 minutes. Jaylen Brown was also surprisingly quiet. He got in some early foul trouble and finished with 10 points, two rebounds, one assist and one block.


The Celtics have simply been two different teams at home and on the road this postseason. The C’s, who lost their final three road games in the regular season, are just 1-5 away from Boston in the playoffs. On the other hand, Cleveland has won six straight at Quicken Loans Arena. They will look to make it seven straight victories on Monday night when they host Game 4.


Despite feeling good after Saturday's impressive performance, the Cavs still have the odds stacked against them. In NBA postseason history, 300 teams have fallen into 0-2 holes in a best-of-seven playoff series. Only 19 times has one of those teams come all the way back to win that series. The good news for Cleveland is that LeBron James led two of those 19 squads. The disheartening news is Boston is undefeated when gaining a 2-0 advantage. The Celtics are 37-0 in such situations, the best record in league history.


Sunday’s Schedule:
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors - Game 3 - 8:00 pm on TNT
After the Rockets spent five-plus months securing homecourt advantage by compiling 65 wins during the regular season, the Warriors snatched it away in 48 minutes in a Game 1 win on Monday. However, Houston bounced back in a big way Wednesday night. With their impressive 127-105 blowout victory over Golden State in Game 2, the Rockets reminded folks why they were the league’s best team from October through May. Keep in mind, only 20 teams in NBA history have won 65 games in the regular season, and 15 of those squads went on to capture the title.


Nonetheless, the Warriors are a heavy favorite in Game 3. (Vegas has the Dubs favored by seven points.) This Golden State team seemed, understandably, unenthused during most of the regular season. After three straight trips to the NBA Finals, and two championships, the Warriors have been waiting for a reason to get motivated and re-focused. Even during the first two rounds of these 2018 playoffs, they had an easy time dispatching the Spurs and Pelicans, ending each dramaless series in five games. Sunday’s matchup vs. the Rockets is arguably the most important game they’ve played since Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. (Remember, Golden State won 15 games in a row to start the 2017 postseason and waltzed to a title).


The Warriors, who have won 15 straight games at Oracle Arena, will look to follow the blueprint that led to success in Game 1. That means crisp ball movement and limiting their turnovers. They will also hope Stephen Curry can snap out of his mini-slump. Steph was just was 1-of-5 from 3-point territory in Game 1 and 1-of-8 in Game 2. It’s the first time since December of 2014 that’s he attempted at least five 3-pointers and made one or fewer in consecutive games. Curry missed six weeks due to a knee injury but said on Friday that he feels “great” and that the knee is not an issue. Coach Steve Kerr believes it is more a matter of rhythm and timing.


Rockets point guard was dealing with a leg injury of his own in Game 2, when he was seen with an ice pack on his lower leg late in the fourth quarter. While team acknowledged that Paul was dealing with “some soreness,” he was cleared to practice on Friday and Saturday. "His foot was bothering him a little bit," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It shouldn't be a problem. Just normal. Nothing that would sideline him or anything. He's good." Paul said he is not dealing with any lingering issues and was “all right.” He'll be ready to rock Sunday night.

Game 4 of the series will tip off Tuesday night at 9:00 pm on TNT.




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