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Inconsistent early in series, Hill, Smith catalysts in Game 3


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By RJ Saunders

Cleveland, OH — ESPN analyst Mark Jackson made the point tonight that “the team that has played the hardest in each game of the series has won.”

However, was it the Cleveland Cavaliers playing hard… or that LeBron James’ teammates just hitting shots?

We’ll give it up to the Cavs for their performance last tonight, because James was great. He finished with 27 points, 12 assists and five rebounds and for the duration of the game seemed to have a little bit of a pep in his step. In addition, you have to enjoy the fact that he, as well as his teammates, played with a sense of urgency.

The game got really ugly from the start for the Boston Celtics, as the Cavs opened up the game on a 20-4 run, and as a team they would lead by as many as 30 in the contest. They were quicker to the ball, played great defense, and shot very well from the field (48 percent).

In addition, the rest of the starters for the Cavs all finished with over 10 points. Guard JR Smith had a great night from downtown (3-of-4 3pt), forward Kevin Love gave the Cavs yet another double-double (13 pts, 14 reb) and guard George Hill, who had combined for eight points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first two games of this series, came out very aggressive in the first half, finishing with 13 points on 50 percent shooting, with 11 of those 13 came in the first quarter.

On the other side for Boston, we may have to use Terry Rozier’s nickname and say that this performance by the Celtics team was “scary” … and not in a good way.

Boston couldn’t hit the barn door with a banjo tonight, as the team would shoot an ice cold 39 percent from the field. Center Al Horford didn’t attempt a single field goal in the entire first quarter and the backcourt of Rozier and Brown, the backcourt tandem that everyone raved about in Game Two, combined for only 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

This was not the Celtics team that we’ve raved about the whole entire playoffs so far. However, you expect a young team to have at least one game where they don’t hit their shots and begin to force things.

Boston, with a now 1-5 road playoff record this season, had an opportunity to blow this series out of the water in the Q. In front of “The King” and all his witnesses. However, they showed that there is still a little bit of growing that they must do. In addition, you expect that head coach Brad Stevens will do what he does best and reel his team in and game plan for Game Four.

However, with Cleveland, I don’t believe that we will see another performance like this in the playoffs. The team has been so inconsistent throughout every series so far and at best give LeBron one game where he feels as if they’re going to figure it out and turn it on for the remainder of a series.

But, that hasn’t happened… at least not yet. This could be the game where they turn it on, but you have to feel that we have tried to play that scenario before and it has yet to come to fruition. LeBron is always going to be ready to give super duty and extra effort the moment he steps onto the floor. However, the same cannot be said for his teammates.

Cleveland now has an opportunity to tie this series as Game Four approaches. This is LeBron’s seventh time being down 0-2 in a series and he has only come back and won a series twice after facing an 0-2 deficit. Boston is 37-0 all-time when up in a best-of-seven series being up 2-0.

You can expect the Celtics, in the word of Cleveland’s head coach Tyronn Lue after Game Two’s loss, to “goon up the game” once more. In addition, all LeBron can hope for is that his team answers the call once more and have the performance that we saw yesterday.

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