dglobalnews.com Kyrie-markable: Irving's 42 carries Cavaliers past Celtics
Published: Thu, May 25, 2017
Sports | By Jeannette Edwards

Kyrie-markable: Irving's 42 carries Cavaliers past Celtics

Kyrie-markable: Irving's 42 carries Cavaliers past Celtics

In Game 3, Boston fell behind by as many as 21 points but for the most part stayed within arm's reach of the Cavaliers which was a major improvement over Games 1 and 2 in Boston.

If that's the case, the Celtics will need to perform just as well as they did in Game 3, if not better, for Tuesday's contest.

The Cavaliers point guard finished with a career playoff-high 42 points. "But like I said (following Game 3), I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world". "He's one of the best point guards in the National Basketball Association, and you can tell he puts a lot of work into his game".

"The kid is special", James said.

The Celtics, who are known for having multiple defensive stoppers on the perimeter, witnessed that fact first-hand. They're one of the most unsafe teams in the league in transition and need to capitalize on those opportunities. Marcus Smart is the definition of Grit N Grind. The former is more likely, and Game 4 should give us a better grasp on where both teams stand.

"I think all of the counters (moves), and he's able to shoot the ball", Bradley said as he described why Irving is such a tough cover. He's a great finisher.

Irving had led a 17-point swing in the quarter. Overpowering the smallest players on the floor can make a defense deeply uncomfortable, so much so that instinctive over-help or altered matchups can create opportunities elsewhere.

James did not do that Sunday in a 111-108 loss in which the Cavs owned a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter. The ensuing sequence, however, may have cost them a chance at a win.

James closed it with 15 points in the fourth, including a 3-pointer with 3:52 remaining for a 106-97 lead.

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And Irving proved that he can carry this Cavs team when LeBron struggles.

"It's a hard challenge because our preparation going into the series was going against a team with Isaiah, so now they're playing a lot differently now, so we're trying to figure out exactly what they're running and things of that nature, so it's been very hard on us without [Isaiah Thomas] on the floor, but now this is two games that we've been able to see them and we're going to get a better understanding".

LeBron noted that the Celtics have adjusted quickly to losing their best player. He led the way with 27 points, 19 of which were scored in the second half.

Boston also baited James into foul trouble. They played a hell of a game and they took it to us and we weren't able to stop the runs that they made. James, Irving and Kevin Love combined for 93 points, the most points the Cavs' three All-Stars have combined to score in a playoff game in their three years together. Irving also had 17 points at the break. The Celtics, following a drop-off during the second half, totaled 99 points, 29 rebounds and 26 assists as a team.

James was quick to shut down any residual feelings about his tepid performance as Cleveland practiced ahead of Tuesday's game four, with the Cavs leading 2-1 in the series.

Had the Celtics believed Smart was any kind of definitive answer as a fill-in point guard, Stevens wouldn't have done so much scrambling in search of workable options. Bradley says that Thursday will be a different story.

"He was already built for it", James said.

"He knows that. We know that. You're going to see a team playing hard - very hard". Even if it was just a hot shooing night, it's helpful to see what it does for the offense when Smart punishes defenders going under his ball screens.

But James went just 4 of 13 from the field, missing all four 3-pointers.

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