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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 21 May, 2019
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Home comforts! Cavaliers rout Celtics to cut series deficit to 2-1

After back-to-back defeats in Boston, the Cavaliers returned home to Cleveland and made a statement.

LeBron James in action.
LeBron James in action.
Image: Gregory Shamus

THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS avoided falling 3-0 behind the Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference finals after winning game three 116-86.

After back-to-back defeats in Boston, the Cavaliers returned home to Cleveland and reduced the deficit to 2-1 on Saturday.

LeBron James posted 27 points and 12 assists as the Cavaliers responded against the Celtics.

Jaylen Brown, who averaged 23 points per game in the games one and two, got into foul trouble early, which allowed the Cavaliers to really get going on offense.

George Hill scored the first two points of the game and added 11 in the first quarter alone. He had a combined eight points in the series’ first two games.

As good as Hill was, and as well as the Cavaliers shot the ball (17 of 34 from three-point range), it was their defense that really changed the game.

Boston never really got any good footing offensively and it showed in the box score. The Celtics hit six of 22 from three-point range and 29 of 74 from the field.

“When we broke down defensively, we had guys flying at guys making them make extra dribbles, making them make extra passes and not giving up on plays that we did in Game 1 and Game 2,” James told ESPN after the game. “So that definitely took account for our defense being a lot better today.”

The Celtics are now 1-5 on the road in the 2018 playoffs. Game four is on Monday.

James shot 67 per cent from the floor (eight for 12) with a game-high points total and five rebounds.

Kevin Love had 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. He was also a perfect four for four from the free-throw line.

Brown did not have the worst shooting night ever, but his two fouls in the first five minutes really, really hurt the Celtics in the long run. Boston had trouble scoring when he was out as they put up just 16 points over the next 10 minutes and their perimeter defense suffered. Cleveland shot 50 per cent from deep in his absence.

James got a taste of his own medicine (in a good way) when he took a beautiful back-door pass from Love and then threw down a reverse dunk to put an exclamation point on the first half.

The Golden State Warriors were going to run away with the series after game one and now the Houston Rockets are going to run away with it after game two. Neither of those statements are true, but what is factual is game three is going to feature two great offenses on Sunday.

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