Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Boston Celtics in a 116-86 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Though the Celtics still possess a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals, the team delivered perhaps its worst performance of the postseason to date in Game 3 while numerous previously dormant members of the Cavaliers proved they still have a pulse, after all.
George Hill erupted for 11 points in the first quarter alone – more than each of his first two games total, combined – in a much-needed supporting role for LeBron James, who had 12 points in the first quarter of his own. The Cavaliers blew the game wide open with a 13-0 run in the opening quarter, never trailing at any point in the contest.
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Hill only finished with 13 points after the hot start, but James wound up with 27 points, five rebounds and 12 assists to get his teammates involved. Though the totals were a tick down from his 42-point, 10-round, 12-assist triple double in Game 2, it didn’t matter.
After Hill went quiet, LeBron’s teammates such as Kevin Love (13 points, 14 rebounds), Tristan Thompson 10 points, seven rebounds) and Kyle Korver (14 points on 5-for-5 shooting off the bench) chipped in.
Even J.R. Smith – who perhaps warranted a suspension after shoving Al Horford mid-air in Game 2 – was a net positive for Cleveland in the game, pouring in 11 points, including 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. Smith had tossed up a goose egg – no points in 27 minutes – in Game 2.
The Cavaliers shot an otherworldly 17-for-34 from 3-point land; James connected on all three of his shots from deep, Korver on all four.
The Cavaliers led 32-17 after the first quarter, 61-41 at halftime and 87-63 after three.
Virtually no one on the Celtics showed up, save for perhaps Jayson Tatum (18 points, 6 for 10 shooting). Al Horford took only four shots from the field, finishing with seven points; Terry Rozier (13) and Jaylen Brown (10) also managed to crack double figures for Boston, as did Greg Monroe off the bench with 10 points of his own.
Boston shot just 39.7 percent as a team from the field.
The 86 points for the Celtics were the lowest since scoring a 97-86 loss vs. the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the first round, while the 116 points allowed matched the most in the postseason for Gang Green.
Game 4 is Monday night in Cleveland at 8:30 p.m.