25 May, 2017
Boston started the game exceptionally strong, drilling threes early with terrific ball movement and offensive awareness, whereas the Cavaliers were replicating their strong movement and cuts, but were struggling to hit uncontested shots, letting the Celtics finish the first quarter on a strong 29-19 performance; with 19 being Cleveland's playoff low for a quarter.
Kyrie Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat the Boston Celtics 112-99 on Tuesday night (Wednesday Manila time) in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Despite the fact that he was averaging 21 points and 5.3 assists on 59.5 percent shooting from the field and 46.7 percent from three through the first three games, he never had one of his "Kyrie moments".
They were down by 10, LeBron James only had 10 points with four fouls, and the fans in The Q must've been a tiny bit anxious.
Boston quickly extended their lead to 16 thanks to a 6-0 burst after James took a seat before Irving started to heat up.
The way they responded Tuesday night - particularly on the defensive end - is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday.
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Nashville had two potential goals waved off in a span of eight seconds during the third period because of goaltender interference. Whether it ends in regulation or goes past, look for the Ducks to come up with the close win and square the series.
When the dust settled after Irving buried a 26-foot 3 with:00.5 on the clock at the end of 3, the Cavs led by 7 heading to the final quarter and he had 39 points. "They answered back with everything we answered". Even when LeBron came back in as the second half got rolling, Kyrie continued to exploit the Celtics.
Much like Game 3, the Cavaliers played one half of great basketball and one half of lazy basketball, only this time it was reversed. Will Cleveland close out this series on the road in The Garden, or do the Celtics have more fight left within them?
They've given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2. "So they had to kind of reshape, and that's the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach, you're able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm".
In Game 4, Kyrie Irving tallied a postseason career-high 42 points on 15-22 (.682) shooting, a 4-7 (.571) mark on three-pointers and an 8-9 (.889) clip from the free throw line, eight rebounds and four assists in 41 minutes.
"What are you going to do?" said Cleveland's Kevin Love.
It's also why Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that his team must keep all thoughts of being on the cusp of a return to the NBA Finals at bay for now. "As much as you want to, it's not over", he said. "I think that allowed us to outscore them by 17 in the third". "They're a tough, competitive team, so defensively they get a lot of deflections and a lot of steals". "With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they're still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there".