Our Sunday NBA playoffs preview highlights Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, with LeBron James’ Cavs on the ropes at 2-0 down in the Eastern Conference Finals.
10:30 (AEST), Sun 20th May @ Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
History: Played 246: Celtics 146 V Cavaliers 100.
Last meeting: May 15, 2018: Celtics 107 d Cavaliers 94 at TD Garden.
Final Thoughts: The Cleveland Cavaliers have their backs to the wall after being humbled in the opening two games in Boston, needing an immediate turnaround as they welcome the on-fire Celtics to Quicken Loans Arena.
The Celtics backed up their stunning 108-83 win in Game 1 – in which LeBron James was restricted to just 15 points – with a 107-94 result in Game 2.
The Cavs started with a hiss and a roar, LeBron posting 21 first-quarter points as the visitors surged to a double-digit lead. Still up by seven at halftime, the Cavaliers crumbled in a 22-36 third quarter, however, and the Celtics went on with the job in the final term.
Jaylen Brown top-scored for the Celtics with 23 points for the second game in a row, while Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum contributed strongly in a genuine team performance. Lebron finished with a 42-point triple-double and Kevin Love had 22 points and 15 rebounds, but otherwise support was severely lacking.
The Cavaliers have won seven of their last nine against the Celtics in Cleveland, including three of the last four playoffs encounters between the teams at Quicken Loans Arena.
The momentum is undeniably with the Celtics, who boast a 2-0 series lead after two wins by a combined 38 points, but they are a poor 1-4 on the road in these playoffs.
Game 3 will be the most pivotal and telling of the series – and it shapes as a cliff-hanger. While the Cavs unsurprisingly favourites, on the evidence so far it’s hard to overlook the Celtics with a big start.