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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Game 3: Cavs at Celtics

First round of Eastern Conference playoffs
TD Garden
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: TNT, Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers are gunning for a sweep in their best-of-seven series with Boston. They have a chance to close out the first-round series at 1 p.m. Sunday at TD Garden. If you have a chance to wrap up a series, step on their throats. Don't give your opponent a chance to come back in the series. Boston is certainly giving the Cavs everything they have. The Celtics are playing so hard in this series. I have a new-found respect for them.

2. LeBron James was spectacular with 31 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. He shot 13 of 26 from the field. The only downside is that he played a game-high 42 minutes. The Cavs can't afford to wear him down, especially in the first round of the playoffs. He'll be needed on this playoff run that could stretch into June.

3. Things came easy for Kyrie Irving in the first two games of the series. He averaged 28 points in the first two games. One could make a case for him being the best player on the court on those games. It all came crashing down in Game 3 when he had just 13 points and six assists. He shot just 3 of 11 from the field. He never got in any kind of flow. 

4. Luckily for the Cavs, both Kevin Love (23 points, nine rebounds, three assists) and J.R. Smith (15 points, five rebounds) both came up big. Love was 6 of 10 from behind the arc and Smith was 3 of 8. The Cavs were 12 of 29 from the 3-point line.

5. Boston players have been trying to get rough with James. Cavs coach David Blatt said that's playoff basketball. It might have been a little excessive, especially when center Timofey Mozgov got elbowed in the throat. They are trying to get into the Cavs' head with the rugged play. It's not going to work. James said he's seen and heard it all.

6. Boston's bench has outscored its Cleveland counterparts, 143-52, in the first three games of the series. Forward Jae Crowder (16) had as many points as the Cavs' bench in Game 3. Critics point to the disparity and say that will be the Cavs' eventual downfall in the playoffs. None of their three main players off the bench are big scorers. Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova pride themselves on their defensive acumen. James said whatever scoring they get from their bench is icing on the cake. James Jones, of course, is a scorer and has made big baskets in the series.

7. The Cavs have committed 31 turnovers in the first two games of the series, 11 by James. They had just 11 turnovers in Game 3. That's how they have to play, especially in the subsequent rounds of the playoffs.

9. I've been impressed with the way the Cavaliers have competed on the boards. It will bode them well in later rounds. They own a 138-118 edge on the glass in the first three games. Kevin Love is averaging 9.0 rebounds in the series. James is right behind at 8.6 and Thompson at 8.0. Thompson is averaging 4.7 offensive rebounds in the series. It's one of the keys to the series thus far, according to Boston coach Brad Stevens.

10. Shooting percentages have taken a major dip in the series. The Cavs were shooting just 44.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the 3-point line in the first two games. Boston was shooting just 42.7 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from behind the arc. 

UP NEXT: at Boston, TD Garden, Game 4 of Eastern Conference playoffs, 1 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Evan Turner (6-7, 205)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 225) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2, 180)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Marcus Smart (6-4, 220)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Joe Harris
Celtics - G Chris Babb, G/F James Young
James Capers, David Guthrie, Jason Phillips


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