The Cleveland Cavaliers avoided an 0-3 series deficit in the Eastern Conference finals with an emphatic 116-86 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 on Saturday night.
Cleveland shot 48.7 percent from the floor and hit 17 of their 34 3-pointers in a much-improved offensive performance at Quicken Loans Arena.
LeBron James notched a double-double with a game-high 27 points and 12 assists for the Cavs. Kevin Love added 13 points and pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.
No one outside of Jayson Tatum played well for the Celtics. He led Boston with 18 points, while no other Celtic scored more than 13.
Here’s how Game 3 unfolded.
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
PERFECT START FOR CAVS
The Celtics were lucky to be down 9-4 after hitting just two of their first 10 shots and committing three fouls in the first five minutes of the game.
Two quick 3-pointers put the Cavs up 15-4. Boston had more turnovers than field goals seven minutes in, and Cleveland went up 22-6 as a result.
The Cavs led 27-11 with 2:16 remaining in the quarter. James (12 points) and George Hill (eight) were hot early, while the Celtics as a team missed 10 of their first 15 shots with four turnovers.
The Cavs led 32-17 after the buzzer sounded. James (12) and Hill (11) led Cleveland’s offense. Hill’s production particularly was positive for the Cavs considering he scored just three points in Game 2.
The Cavs struggled from beyond the arc in Boston, but that wasn’t the case early in Game 2. They went 6-for-11 on 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes.
Tatum paced the Celtics with six points. Boston shot 33.3 percent (6-for-18) from the floor in the quarter.
CAVS STAY HOT
The Cavs’ lead see-sawed between 14 and 17 through the first half of the second quarter. Each time the Celtics got within 13 or 14, the Cavs responded with a basket. Tatum was among the lone bright spots for the C’s early in the second, upping his scoring total to a team-high 10 points with a couple impressive mid-range jumpers.
A 3-pointer by James grew the Cavs lead to 20 (52-32) — their largest of the game — with 4:17 remaining in the second quarter.
J.R. Smith hit a 3-pointer to put Cleveland up 21 with less than two minutes left in the first half, and the Cavs ultimately took a 61-41 lead into halftime.
James led the Cavs with 19 first-half points. Hill chipped in 13, and eight Cavs players scored four or more points through 24 minutes. It was the kind of balanced scoring effort that eluded the Cavs over the first two games of the series.
Cleveland also shot 56.3 percent (9-for-17) from 3-point range. The Celtics shot just 2-for-9 from beyond the arc and 14-for-35 from the floor. Tatum paced the C’s with 13 points. No other Celtic scored more than seven.
CELTICS CAN’T CUT THE DEFICIT
The Cavs increased their lead as high as 28 (the Celtics’ third-highest deficit of the season) in the third quarter as the C’s continued to shoot poorly. Boston also committed nine fouls in the quarter.
James led the Cavaliers with 27 points and nine assists through three quarters, while Tatum and Rozier carried the offense for the Celtics with 13 points apiece.
Both teams pulled their starters early in the fourth quarter. The Celtics never got within 18 points of the lead in the second half. Poor shooting, sloppy defense and a poor job on the glass doomed Boston’s comeback effort.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Too bad James never has competed in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Game 4 is Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports