The Boston Celtics had a great chance to shock the Cleveland Cavaliers again in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, but they couldn’t stop Kyrie Irving from dominating the second half.
Irving went off for 21 points in the third quarter to help the Cavs erase a 10-point halftime deficit and take a 3-1 series lead with a 112-99 victory Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers point guard finished with a career playoff-high 42 points. He shot an impressive 15-for-22 from the floor, including a 4-for-7 mark from 3-point range. He also made eight of his nine free throw attempts.
Cavs forward LeBron James surprisingly picked up four first-half fouls and didn’t find a rhythm until the fourth quarter. Cleveland needed someone to step up and halt Boston’s momentum, and Irving rose to the occasion.
His 21 third-quarter points were just two fewer than the Celtics scored as a team in the frame. Irving shot 9-for-10 in the quarter as the Cavs outscored Boston 40-23 to completely turn the game around.
Irving is no stranger to coming up clutch.
Remember, it was his 3-point shot that pretty much clinched the Cavs’ Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. He’s capable of taking over games when it matters most, and the Cavaliers surely will need him to do it again if they’re going to repeat as champions.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Cavs Game 4.
— The Celtics had a 10-point lead when James went to the bench for the rest of the first half after picking up his fourth foul. That came at 6:46 of the second quarter, and Boston wasn’t able to extend its lead at all.
It was a huge missed opportunity for the Celtics.
— Irving wasn’t the only Cavs superstar who scored at a high rate. James (34 points) and Kevin Love (17 points) also contributed. The 93 combined points from James, Irving and Love was the highest total for Cleveland’s Big Three in a playoff game.
Love grabbed a playoff career-high 17 rebounds, too.
— The Celtics had four starters score 15-plus points. Avery Bradley (19 points), Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16 points) and Kelly Olynyk (15 points) paced the C’s offensively. However, the Celtics shot poorly from 3-point range. They hit on just 10 of 31 attempts from beyond the arc, and Bradley and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 2-for-12 from that range.
— The Cavs outscored the Celtics 65-42 in the second half thanks to some hot shooting.
— Jonas Jerebko scored nine points with five rebounds off the bench. Jaylen Brown also scored nine on 3-for-5 shooting. Terry Rozier added five points in a reserve role. These were the only C’s bench players to score, but it still helped Boston outscore the Cleveland bench 23-7. The problem for the Celtics was their starters were outscored 105-76.
— Another game, another impressive outlet pass from Love.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images