Cavaliers Beat Celtics 112-99 in Game 4, Lead Series 3-1

Cavaliers Beat Celtics 112-99 in Game 4, Lead Series 3-1

Cavaliers Beat Celtics 112-99 in Game 4, Lead Series 3-1

Kyrie Irving scored 41 points in the win, as he took on the burden of LeBron James' absence.

But in the third quarter, Irving's iso attacks were virtually unstoppable - 17 points on only eight do-it-by-himself adventures.

James also shook off his shaky start to rebound from a 11-point display in Sunday's game-three loss. Additionally, James pulled down five rebounds, handed out six assists, blocked one shot and stole a pass. He was held scoreless in the fourth quarter and was limited to three points in the second half. The boards are helping the Cavs get fast break points.

If LeBron James was even a shell of his usual self in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be up 3-0 in the conference finals and beginning to size up the Golden State Warriors for what would be an NBA Finals rematch. With James on the bench, Irving took over - however.

But third, and maybe most important, they've got to get better.

"He's got to be aggressive, get downhill, play like he's been playing, play confident", shooting guard J.R. Smith said Monday after practice.

In the fourth quarter, James took over, scoring 11 points on nine go-it-alone moves.

The silver lining is that even after this ugly mess, the Cavaliers are up 2-1 against a team that likely played its best possible game.

Cleveland shot 76 perc ent from the floor in the third quarter, led by Irving's 13-for-16 shooting.

Then in the third quarter, Uncle Drew woke up and with 21 points in that part of the clash, he completely changed the course of this meeting.

Game 5 is Thursday night in Boston. It was the first time in his 14-year career he had that many fouls in the first half. It was James' worst postseason points total since Game 5 of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals when he managed seven points against the Indiana Pacers. It was their first lead since early in the opening quarter. The Celtics watched the Cavaliers cut the deficit down to single digits.

A layup from Celtics center Kelly Olynyk preceded three-pointers on back-to-back possessions from small forward Jae Crowder and shooting guard Avery Bradley. Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points.

The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs.

Cleveland Cavaliers' James Jones, right, and LeBron James sit on the bench against the Boston Celtics during the first half of Game 4 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in Cleveland.

This was a fantastic performance by Irving who once again showed that whenever James has troubles in crucial moments, he is there to jump in and make some decisive plays.

The four-time MVP didn't hide from his poor showing, telling reports, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver: "Me personally, I didn't have it". He passed up shots and made mental and physical mistakes normally reserved for others. James finished with 34 points and had a strong second half. The Cavs just couldn't get a stop when they desperately needed one and the offense stagnated beyond belief.

So even if Silver was tempted to make the call, there's nearly zero chance of a salvage job in either of the conference finals.

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