LeBron James finishes with 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and the Cavs cruise to a 29-point win at the TD Garden.
In Game 2, the Celtics took home-court advantage away from the Cavs in Cleveland; in Game 3, the Cavs have answered. They're in control of this series once again.
Fourth quarter, 3:03, Cavs 120-87: And the lead hits 33. The Celtics have their garbage-time unit on the floor, and the Cavs have no shame as they run up the score in the final minutes.
LeBron's been sitting for the past two-plus minutes, but the Cavs have had no trouble piling it on thanks to Delonte West, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. Also a nice little cameo appearance from Leon Powe, a familiar face around these parts.
Only a matter of time before time runs out on this one and the Celtics are put out of their misery.
Fourth quarter, 6:38, Cavs 107-80: At this point, the only thing worth watching is the ever-growing stat line of LeBron James. It's a sight to behold.
With still more than half of this fourth quarter left to play, here's the rundown on King James: 14-of-22 from the field, 38 points, eight rebounds, seven assists. He's made eight of his nine attempts from the free-throw line.
You have to think the guy just woke up this morning and decided, "Yup, tonight I'm going to destroy these guys." And then he did.
For LeBron, it just seems that simple.
Fourth quarter, 9:52, Cavs 98-74: The Celtics are within 24, and they're celebrating. That can't be good.
After Rajon Rondo beats Anthony Parker to an offensive rebound and puts it back with a nice touch, the Cavs opt for a timeout with 9:52 left. Looks like Mike Brown needs one last pep talk to make sure his guys finish the deal.
(If they didn't finish this one, you'd have to call it the biggest choke in NBA playoff history, right? Right. Of course.)
End of third quarter, Cavs 96-70: To his credit, Nate Robinson does come off the bench and quickly knock down two 3-pointers and a pair of free throws. With eight points, he's now the leading scorer on the Celtics' bench.
Someday, he might do this in a game that matters.
LeBron now has 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Already impressive numbers, but we've still got 12 minutes to go. It doesn't look like King James has any desire to come out.
Third quarter, 3:22, Cavs 88-60: Doc Rivers said a month ago that Nate Robinson would win a playoff game for the Celtics. I doubt he meant this one.
Nate enters the game in place of Rajon Rondo with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter. With his flashy scoring ability, the speedy guard has the chance to be an X-factor in this series for the Celtics offensively — but with the C's down 28, it's too little, too late.
Maybe another time, Nate.
Third quarter, 5:55, Cavs 81-55: It's not just LeBron — Mo Williams can drive to the hole and score when Rondo leaves his man to help on LeBron. The Cavs just have too many weapons.
When the Cavs are clicking offensively the way they are tonight, there's just nothing you can do. You can't play LeBron straight up, because he'll destroy you; you also can't double him, because whoever you leave open will come to life and capitalize.
Everyone's got it going tonight for Cleveland. There's no weak link.
Third quarter, 9:18, Cavs 73-49: Paul Pierce is jacking up 3s because his team is desperate. LeBron James is taking them simply because he can. Guess which one is making them.
LeBron knocks down another trey here early in the third quarter, making him 2-for-3 from long range tonight and giving him 31 points overall.
It's still early. Lord knows how many he could pile up if he tried.
Halftime, Cavs 65-43: The Cavs open their biggest lead of the game at 24; the C's cut it back to 22 on their final possession. In any event, it isn't pretty for the guys in green.
For the Celtics, the message is pretty clear: You can't win when you let the other team shoot 62 percent.
LeBron finishes the half with 28 points. He's 11-of-15 from the floor; the rest of the team combined is 13-of-24. The Celtics are just getting eaten alive defensively.
Second quarter, 3:47, Cavs 55-35: Looks like the Celtics have only figured out two ways to put the ball in the hole tonight: Either let Rondo fend for himself and score, or exploit the heck out of the Kevin Garnett/Antawn Jamison matchup and go for easy post-ups.
That's good, but it's not enough. The rest of the team is completely dead. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins — all yet to show up.
The Celtics will need them. You can't win this thing with two guys.
Second quarter, 6:08, Cavs 48-29: It's really hard to win when your captain is 0-for-6 from the field, as Paul Pierce is tonight.
It looks like the Celtics are going to need a monster effort from Rajon Rondo even to have a chance in this one.
Rondo's career high is 32 points in a game. He almost needs to break that for the Celtics to climb the mountain back into this game. He's got 12 so far tonight.
Second quarter, 9:08, Cavs 43-25: The Celtics are starting to get frustrated, and they're taking it out on the officials, complaining at every call.
The officials haven't been too kind to the Celtics early on. Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett have two fouls each, putting a serious damper on the C's big man corps, while five other men in green have been whistled once each.
LeBron now has 24. Remember, that was his final point total in Game 2.
End of first quarter, Cavs 36-17: All right, I think we can officially forget about the strained elbow.
LeBron James finishes with 21 points. In the first quarter. King James is shooting 8-of-10 from the floor, he's made all five of his free-throw attempts, and he's exposing a Celtic defense that seems to have absolutely no answer. Paul Pierce just isn't getting the job done.
Here's the sad reality for the Celtics: When Rajon Rondo lights up the Cavs, Mike Brown makes adjustments and his team survives. When LeBron lights up the Celtics, it's armageddon.
First quarter, 3:20, Cavs 25-12: Things look bad for the Celtics early. Very bad.
The Cavs are switching things up defensively tonight, trying to stick the bigger, more physical Anthony Parker on Rajon Rondo. The result is that unlike in Games 1 and 2, Rondo isn't able to drive to the basket and score quite as easily, but he's too stubborn to stop scoring altogether. All the hype's gotten to his head, it would seem.
The result is a lot of settling for jumpers. Rondo leads the Celtics with six points in this game, but he's shooting 3-of-7. Surely the C's can be more efficient than that.
First quarter, 6:23, Cavs 14-8: Kendrick Perkins isn't getting a Christmas card from the James household anytime soon.
LeBron goes up for a layup in transition, and Perkins, acting as the last line of defense between him and the basket, fouls him hard on The All-Important Right Elbow. King James freezes in pain, clutching his arm, and Perk gets quickly whistled for a flagrant 1.
LeBron hits both shots. Things don't look good early for the Celtics.
First quarter, 9:08, Cavs 8-4: In Game 2, it was Rasheed Wallace who stepped into the time machine and played like a youngster again. So far tonight, it's Shaquille O'Neal.
Shaq has touched the ball twice so far in Game 3. Once, he drew a foul, got to the line and hit two shots; the second time, he got a nice look underneath and two easy points.
Couple that with a couple early buckets from LeBron James, and you're looking at an early Cleveland lead.
No one said this would be easy, C's fans.
6:35 p.m.: Everyone's healthy, and everyone's ready to go.
We're ready for tipoff at the TD Garden, and both coaches have confirmed that they'll have their rosters at full strength for tonight's Game 3.
Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins are both raring to go after battling minor injuries earlier this week for the Celtics; for Cleveland, Anderson Varejao is over his back spasms and LeBron James, strained elbow or not, will be ready to play through it. Let's get ready to rumble.
8 a.m.: After two games in Cleveland, the Celtics are back in the driver's seat. Now they've got to put a foot to the gas.
The C's earned a 1-1 series split at Quicken Loans Arena after the first two games of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Cavaliers. They now return to Boston, where they're already 3-0 so far in this postseason. They've got a chance to push that edge in Game 3.
A lot of guys are banged up on both sides. Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins have missed practiced this week for the Celtics, while LeBron James and Anderson Varejao continue to battle nagging injuries on the Cleveland side. But both teams have had four days to recuperate between Games 2 and 3, and everyone should be ready to go at the TD Garden on Friday night.
Both teams are raring to go, but only one will emerge from this one with a 2-1 series lead.
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