Will Cavaliers Level Eastern Finals In Game Four?

Smith was on form in game three

The Cleveland Cavaliers roared back into the Eastern Conference Finals by defeating the Boston Celtics 116-86 at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavs entered game three in a must-win scenario, having lost the opening two matches of the series on the road. LeBron James and company rose to the task, seeing off Brad Stevens’ men with ease to get themselves back into the series.

Boston were off the pace from the start of the contest as their defense struggled throughout, while their shooting from distance was a huge issue. The Celtics had issues on the road in the opening two rounds of the playoffs and are now 1-5 in the post-season away from the TD Garden.

Resilience has been the theme of their season and they will need to be at their best to produce a response in game four. The Cavaliers had to raise their game at some point, but they will have to maintain that standard for the rest of the series to reach the Finals for the fourth-straight year.

LeBron finally received support from his team-mates in a complete performance at both ends of the court. Producing that level once again on home court will put the pressure back on the Celtics heading into game five at the TD Garden.

Smith was on form in game three

Boston Celtics

After their strong outings in the opening two games of the series, the Celtics put forward a tepid display at the Quicken Loans Arena. This is the sort of performance Stevens will have feared from his youthful side, lacking the experience of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Boston have received quality production from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum along with Terry Rozier in relief of Hayward of Irving. The trio have been the driving force behind the club’s success in the playoffs, using the nous and skill of Al Horford around them. However, this appeared to be one game too many operating at an elite level for all three players as none of them were capable of raising their standards on the road.

Brown scored over 20 points in the first two games, but was down to 10, making just three of his attempts from the field. However, the 21-year-old did sink two of his three three-pointers. Brown’s shooting from range has been excellent against the Cavaliers and it will be up to Stevens and his coaching staff to generate better looks for the guard in game four.

As a rookie Tatum has performed above expectations and he scored 18 points on the night, although it was not the dominant outing his side needed to keep pace. Rozier was solid in an expanded role, but these two player more than anyone highlight the loss of Hayward and Irving. They have played well to defeat to Cavs in the opening two matches, but life is much harder on the road.

Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes were all extremely poor. They cannot afford to put further pressure on the younger playmakers in the team by wasting easier opportunities, with Morris and Smart especially spurning openings from close range. Boston have responded before and it will be no surprise to see them come out hot once again.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers finally put a complete performance together in the Conference Finals. In the opening two matches it seemed as though LeBron would have to take on Celtics on his own. He had sparing help from Kevin Love and Kyle Korver, but support was not forthcoming from the rest of the team.

However, George Hill took the initiative at the start of the contest to give his side the momentum to dominate. He notched 13 points over the course of the contest, but his initial surge was vital to prove that the Cavs were ready to rally around LeBron.

JR Smith found his range from distance. His three-pointers were crucial against the Toronto Raptors and he rediscovered his touch, netting 75% of his attempts from the perimeter. Tristan Thompson also improved his level of play at both ends of the court, providing a defensive shield to limit Horford. In the final third he as efficient, collating 10 points during his time in the game.

Love has been a standout for the Cavs and he was on form once again. He collected 14 rebounds, highlighting his value around the basket. The 29-year-old reached double figures netting 13 points, although he was not quite as effective as the opening two matches inside the paint.

Korver’s shooting was on point with the guard coming off the bench to thrive. He was flawless, making all five of his field goals, including all four of his three-pointers. It will be hard to match that level again, but he has been a useful foil for the Cavs.

Although LeBron did not produce a classic dominant display, his 27 points were just fine. It was a restrained effort from the All-Star as he appeared determined to bring others into play. He was deadly accurate at the perimeter, making all of his three-pointers. If he can rely on the same standard of support, LeBron could be able to pull off another run to the Finals.

Breakdown

The Cavaliers were deadly accurate from the field, while the Celtics were putrid to say the least. Something will give in the second game it’s unlikely that both sides will remain at those levels. LeBron was efficient in his play and although he did not hit the heights of his previous outings, it was the display that Tyronn Lue will have wanted to see from his key man.

If Smith, Korver, Hill, Thompson and Love can continue to operate at that level together then they should be able to tie the series.  However, consistency has not been their strong point throughout the term. The Celtics will be aiming to fightback with the hope of being able to wrap it up in game five on home soil. It might just evade them as the Cavs have found their rhythm. Back Cleveland for the win at odds of -320   with TopBet, but take Boston to cover the spread of +5.5 at odds of +107   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Cleveland Cavaliers To Beat Boston Celtics Game Five
Monday 21st May 2018 20:30 ET (Tuesday 22nd May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: -320

Boston Celtics To Cover +5.5 Spread
Monday 21st May 2018 20:30 ET (Tuesday 22nd May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: +107