The National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers has surprised and stunned fans this past week.
Game 2 was held in Boston May 19 where the Cavaliers blew away the Celtics, causing Boston fans to leave during halftime. The final score was 130-86 putting the Cavaliers ahead in this series 2-0.
Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer for the Celtics. He made 7-11 shots from the floor and made all five of his free throws; however, he also had three turnovers and five personal fouls. Avery Bradley had 13 points and shot 6-17 from the field.
Isaiah Thomas did not make much of an appearance during this game as he reaggravated a previous injury.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, were unstoppable. LeBron James put up 30 points, shooting 12-18, made four three-pointers, and also helped his team with seven assists and four steals. Kyrie Irving had 23 points, making 8-11 shots from the floor, and three three-pointers. Kevin Love had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
With a 41 point halftime lead, the Cavaliers broke an NBA playoff record; with a 130-point win, they broke a franchise record; and finally, with this being their 13th playoff game, it was also their 13th consecutive win which ties another league record.
LeBron James is not ready to let anything get in their way. ”As well as we played tonight, we’ve got a couple of things we can do better. There’s no complacency for us now. But we like where we’re headed,” James said.
”My only job is to try to be the MVP for this team every night,” James said Friday night. ”I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table.”
Game 3 was held in Cleveland May 21. The Celtics stunned the announcers, Boston fans and Cleveland as they beat the Cavaliers 111-108 in Game 3 without Isaiah Thomas who will be sitting out the rest of the season due to an injury.
Marcus Smart, typically one of the lower scoring players for the Celtics, was the leading scorer with 27 points — one of his highest scoring games this season. He shot 8-14 from the field, made seven three-pointers, brought in five rebounds, and handed off seven assists.
Avery Bradley had 20 points, shooting 8-23, making three three-pointers, and also handing off four assists. Al Horford had 16 points and six assists, and Jae Crowder had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
As for the Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving led the scoring with 29 points, shooting 10-15, making four three-pointers, all of his free throws, and passing for seven assists.
Kevin Love came out with 28 points making seven three-pointers and grabbing 10 rebounds. Tristan Thompson had 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Celtics held LeBron James to 11 points. James only shot 4-13 from the floor, missed all four three-point shots, but helped grab six rebounds and six assists.
The first and second quarter of Game 3 seemed to be going in the Cavaliers’ favor. They were leading into halftime 66-50, but the Celtics weren’t ready to give them a Game 3 win.
The Celtics outscored the Cavaliers 32-21 in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers were still leading heading into the final quarter 87-82. The Celtics kept feeding off the momentum until the final second of the game.
With only 10.7 seconds left to play, Kyrie Irving made a driving layup shot to tie the game 108-108. The Celtics quickly called a short timeout as head coach Brad Stevens drew up the winning play.
Out of the timeout, the Celtics used a play similar to some that they’ve used this season so far. Marcus Smart received the inbounds pass and waited as Avery Bradley set a decoy screen and then sprinted to the three-point line and was left wide open on a miscommunication for the Cavs defense. Bradley’s shot bounced four times before finally going in with 0.1 seconds left.
The Celtics had double the steals and only nine turnovers compared to the Cavaliers’ 15. They played without their star Isaiah Thomas, but proved that they have the ability to win without him.
With the conclusion of Game 3, the Celtics ended a 13-game playoff win streak by the Cavaliers in Cleveland territory.
Game 4 was also held in Cleveland May 23 with the Cavaliers coming back to win 112-99 to lead the series 3-1.
The Celtics were leading 57-47 at the half, but the Cavaliers found their stride with Kyrie Irving in the third quarter to take back control of the game on their home court. Irving had a career-high 42 points with 21 of those points in the third quarter alone.
LeBron James shook off his poor game 3 with 34 points, shooting 15-27, bringing in five rebounds and six assists. Kevin Love had 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
The leading scorer for the Celtics was Avery Bradley with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists. Jae Crowder had 18 points and eight rebounds. Al Horford had 16 points and seven assists. Marcus Smart, who played a majority of the game, only scored eight points and handed off six assists.
Game 5 was held in Boston May 25. The Cavaliers won 135-102 to advance to the 2017 NBA Finals where they will face the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James was back with 35 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving had 24 points, making 9-15 of his shots from the floor, and handing off seven assists. Kevin Love came out with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Only once did the Cavaliers and the Celtics tie during this game. For the rest, the Cavaliers were in total control, including at one point having a 39-point lead. They never allowed the Celtics to gain the lead.
Avery Bradley was the leading scorer for the Celtics with 23 points and four rebounds. Gerald Green came out with 14 points. Jae Crowder had 11 points and six rebounds while Terry Rozier had 10 points and seven assists.
It was a tough loss and end to the season for the Celtics. Head coach Brad Stevens said that he and the team are disappointed by this end.
“I told our guys: ‘We made a lot of great strides, but this pain is part of the path to what we ultimately want to be.’”
The Cavaliers claimed the Eastern Conference title and will be playing the Golden State Warriors for the third consecutive year. They ended this playoff season 13-1.
This will be LeBron James’s seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals. WIth 35 points this game, he passed the legendary Michael Jordan to become NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leader.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals will begin June 1 at 9 p.m. in Oakland, California.