After getting utterly embarrassed in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics stunned the NBA world by beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland, 111-108, in Game 3 on Sunday. Boston played without Isaiah Thomas and trailed by 21 points in the third quarter but found a way to win, as Avery Bradley hit the game-winning three with 0.1 seconds to go.
The series is now 2-1 – as close as it can be – with Game 4 slated for Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
“They played the way that we played,” Cavs radio analyst Jim Chones said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “When they felt pressure, they found the open man. They hockey-passed it around until they got the shot they wanted. I just think they played with a lot of poise in that second half. They didn’t hurry. They just read the defense. But the pace of the game was not a Cavalier pace.”
Boston outscored Cleveland 61-42 in the second half.
“When you have players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who are always a threat to get to the rim and get to the paint, you have to pick up the pace or teams just sit in the paint,” Chones said. “I thought that’s what the Celtics did. I thought they had a nice rotation on the threat of penetration. I thought they had pressure on the dribbler. A lot of times it was LeBron or Kyrie. I just thought for the most part we didn’t play fast enough.”
James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the floor, including 0-of-4 from three. Irving (29 points) and Kevin Love (28) were spectacular, but James looked lost, especially in the second half. He shot 0-of-6 in the final 18 minutes.
“It’s probably his worst game of the season,” Chones said. “It just didn’t seem like anything worked for him. He took shots and I didn’t see the rotation that I normally see on the ball. I think he shot it with confidence, but the ball wouldn’t go in. But I did see him make a lot of passes, hockey passes, to try to get the ball to his teammates to probably open something up. But in the second half, you got to give the Celtics some credit. They found some match-ups, not necessarily good match-ups, but I thought (Al) Horford played well.”
Horford had 16 points and six assists.
“I thought he did a good job of posting up and fishing with the turnaround jumper,” Chones said, “and then you got to give credit to Marcus Smart. I just thought he was magnificent all through the game. He knew he was going to be out there, so he didn’t panic, he didn’t hurry his shots, he stayed focused, and showed a lot of poise.”
Smart scored a team-high 27 points and had a team-high seven assists.
“Once he started making shots – oh my goodness, the guy made seven threes,” Chones said. “There wasn’t much we could do.”