Cavaliers outplay Celtics, slice series deficit to 1-2

By: AP May 20,2018 - 09:32 PM

Cleveland — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside Cleveland’s locker room and pounded his chest with both hands.

The Celtics got thumped next.

James had 27 points and 12 assists, Kevin Love added 14 rebounds and the Cavaliers looked like a different team on their home court, tightening the Eastern Conference finals with a 116-86 victory in Game 3 over Boston on Saturday night.

Outplayed during two losses in Boston, the Cavs used a three-day break in the series to regroup and re-grip this series. With James leading the way, they built a 19-point lead in the first quarter, pushed it to 30 in the second half and overpowered the Celtics, who fell to 1-5 on the road in the postseason.

Any discussion of Cleveland’s demise is premature. Kyle Korver made four of the team’s 17 3-pointers, six players scored in double figures and the Cavs, who have spent the season seeking chemistry and cohesion, were connected defensively.

“Even when things broke down, we just covered for one another,” James said. “We made them make extra passes. We made them make extra dribbles. We were flying around, and I just happened to be one of the guys on the floor that wanted to fly around as well.”

Jaylen Brown was in foul trouble all night and scored just 10 for the Celtics after averaging 23 in the first two games. Jayson Tatum scored 18 and Terry Rozier 13 for Boston, which couldn’t match Cleveland in any aspect.

The Cavs came in wanting to play faster and be more physical with the younger Celtics, who were the aggressors in Games 1 and 2.

Not this time.

“The toughest team sets the rules,” Rozier said. “They came out aggressive from the jump and never looked back.”

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TAGS: 1-2, Cavaliers, celtics, outplay, series, slice

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