Celtics Hope to Bounce Back, Silence LeBron James in Game 4

Celtics Hope to Bounce Back, Silence LeBron James in Game 4 The Celtics may have looked demoralized following their ugly 29-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3, but they're at home Sunday afternoon with a chance to even their second-round playoff series yet again.

Game 4 will be a pivotal one. Win it, and the Celtics are once again right there with the Cavs, tied 2-2. Lose, and they're headed back to Cleveland with a near-insurmountable 3-1 deficit facing them.

When and Where

Celtics vs. Cavaliers
Friday, May 9, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

Head to Head

The Celtics are now 3-4 against the Cavs this year including the playoffs.

Key Matchup

Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James
In LeBron James' seven games against the men in green, he's
dropped: 38, 36, 30, 42, 35, 24 and finally, on an epic Friday night at
the Garden, 38. In the last three playoff games, Pierce has figured out the sad truth — it's not just about slowing LeBron down and limiting his opportunities on the defensive end. You've also got to keep enough energy left in the tank to work hard offensively. That'll be the trick for Pierce going forward. He's got to come out strong offensively so that he can take it to the hole and score. The jumpers aren't falling, so he's got to find another way.

Starting Lineups

Celtics
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins

Cavaliers
Point guard: Mo Williams
Shooting guard: Anthony Parker
Small forward: LeBron James
Power forward: Antawn Jamison
Center: Shaquille O'Neal

Stat Sheet

Celtics

  • The Celtics have played 292 home playoff games in franchise history. Their 29-point loss to the Cavs in Game 3 was their worst home performance ever in the postseason.
  • Paul Pierce had 11 points in Game 3, his lowest output of the postseason. The last time he scored less was April 9, when he dropped just nine points on the Washington Wizards.
  • Ray Allen also had his lowest scoring output of the playoffs, with seven points. He's averaging 17.5 in this postseason.

Cavaliers

  • LeBron James had 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Game 3 against the Celtics.
  • Shaquille O'Neal shot 5-of-7 from the field in Game 3. He's been a 48.5 percent shooter in these playoffs.
  • Jamario Moon is 8-of-15 from 3-point range in the postseason. Only Orlando's Mickael Pietrus (14-of-26) has been better from long range.

Black and Blue

Celtics

  • Kevin Garnett missed one practice this week with a strained right mid-foot but says he feels fine now.
  • Kendrick Perkins has played through the pain of a strained right knee.

Cavaliers

  • LeBron James' 38-point performance in Game 3 silenced all talk of his strained right elbow and bone bruise. He looks perfectly healthy.
  • Anderson Varejao has recovered from his brief bout with back spasms earlier this week.

Outlook

The Celtics need to get Rajon Rondo back to his active, playmaking ways. They've got to get their offense, led by Pierce, to stop settling for tough jumpers. But most importantly, they've got to bring back the strong team defense that's been this team's hallmark for the past three seasons. If the Celtics can do all that, they've got a good shot. But if not, summer vacation isn't far off.

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