You know what, I was not nervous after the Cavs got beat down in game one versus the Celtics. BUT, after they got drubbed again by the Celtics, I didn’t have a lick of confidence. So here comes game three, back in Quicken Loans Arena, and all I hoped for was a single point victory; however, it seems I got a whole lot more than I bargained for. The Cavs came flying out of the gates in game three, getting their entire squad involved. Cleveland actually had six players score in double figures and ELEVEN different Cavaliers got into the scoring action. More importantly, every starter managed to reach double digits for the second time in the Playoffs. Finally, the defense actually looked competent and managed to throw together defensive schemes that caught Boston off guard. So what needs to happen in order for the Cavs to even up the series at two games a piece?
Image: (Joshua Gunter)
To start off, while going over the Cavs box score, something stood out. THEY WERE AMAZING FROM THE FOUL LINE! I know it’s hard to believe, but a professional basketball team did something that every single person that has ever played basketball can do. Kevin Love, and Jeff Green hit their free throws, but they shoot their free throws with an 80% clip. That’s great and all, BUT LEBRON JAMES, JR SMITH, AND TRISTAN THOMPSON SHOT A COMBINED 14/16 FROM THE LINE!! That’s absurd. I’ve watched basketball ever since I came out of the womb and those three are some of the worst free throw shooters I’ve ever seen, despite the fact JR and LeBron both shoot over 40% from three this past season. So, in a magic turn of events, the Cavs hit their free throws, and their offense ran more fluently. WOW!
Now as a fan of basketball, making free throws is one of the most important things a player can do, but defense wins championships. For one of the few times in the postseason, the Cavs defense was the spark plug. Ty Lue did something crazy, he put in a defensive scheme! What was even more loony, the Cavs bought into it. For starters, Tristan Thompson got the start. (Pun intended.) He manned up with Al Horford, and dominated him in every facet of play. Horford only managed to take 4 shots and was kept of the boards. Tristan also controlled the paint on the offensive side and had some monster dunks to keep the momentum rolling. Thompson also took the pressure of Kevin Love, letting a smaller man guard him, helping Love stay calm on the offensive end.
Image: (Joshua Gunter)
Not only did the Cavs control the paint, they didn’t let the Celtics garner any early confidence. JR Smith had been a no show in the first two games of the series, but he was given a huge role for game three. Smith shadowed Celtics star shooting guard, Jaylen Brown, everywhere he moved and didn’t let him hit any crazy threes early in the game. Brown scored double digits by the first half in games one and two, but only scavenged together 10 points all of game three.
Not only did JR play great defense, he knocked down shots on the other end. Smith went 3/4 from downtown and seemed beyond relieved to see the ball go through the net. He had more points in game three then the first two games combined (4 points in game one, 0 in game two.) Also 6th man Kyle Korver was a perfect 5/5 from the field and 4/4 from downtown, and truly took pressure off LeBron. If these two can consistently hit shots, The King will have no problem getting to the basket and finding easy ways to score.
To be blunt, if the Cavs play well they should win. If all five guys on the hardwood buy into Ty Lue’s defense, knock down jump shots, and make their free throws, the Cavs should have no problem in game four. Cleveland has been the best team in the East since the Summer of 2014, and should be looking for another trip to the Finals.
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