Cavs hold on to level series 2-2

CBS Sports

Lebron James in action against the Boston Celtics. Image: CBS.

In what could be described as the most nonchalant 40-point game of his career, LeBron James became the first player since Allen Iverson in 2001 to score 40 points or more six times in a single postseason, with Cavaliers needing every single one of his 44 points to down the Celtics 111-102.

Neither side will leave the game happy with their performance, as no Cleveland player (besides LeBron) scored above 15 points and they managed to hit just eight threes as a team, while the Celtics shot just 41 percent from the field, at one point missing nine straight three-point attempts. 

As they did in Game 3, the Cavaliers started hot in the first quarter and jumped out to a big lead. A 13-3 run to end the quarter stamped Cleveland’s intent, their much-maligned defensive effort and intensity remained strong and kept the Celtics to 18 points in the first.

The Celtics drained six three-pointers in the second period and got going offensively for the first time since Game 2, but they could not stop a rolling Cleveland offence, and despite winning the quarter 35-34, went into the half trailing by 15.

As has been the case for the Cavs in the playoffs, a lacklustre third quarter reduced their lead to 13 heading into the fourth, turnovers plaguing the home side who finished the game with 18 in total. The Celtics weren’t able to capitalise however and finished with just 10 fast break points, a disappointing result as Cleveland recorded the same number of points from fast breaks off only nine Celtics turnovers.

The game got dicey late as Cleveland sputtered towards the finish line, shooting just seven-of-19 in the fourth but it was enough to hold on. James scored nine points in the quarter to send the series back to Boston tied at 2-2.

Kyle Korver was the Cavs’ second leading scorer with just 14 but contributed with three blocks, two coming on Jaylen Brown in the second quarter. Kevin Love was kept to just nine points on three-of-12 shooting but pulled down 11 rebounds in the contest.

Boston’s offence never got into gear and prevented the Celtics from stealing Game 4. Jaylen Brown led his side with 25 points but shot a disappointing 10-of-23 from the field while Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier, Boston’s go-to scorers, shot just 11-of-28.

Despite the Cavaliers’ up and down performance, a win is a win. Thursday’s Game 5 is arguably the most important of the series and could decide the winner.

The Celtics will have two chances to win if they go up 3-2, while the Cavs will host Game 6 with a chance to end the series if they win on Thursday.

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