LeBron James, Kyrie Irving put Cleveland Cavaliers on brink of NBA Finals
Cleveland Cavaliers rode on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving’s combined 76 points to take a 3-1 lead vs Boston Celtics in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on TuesdayUpdated: May 24, 2017 09:29 IST
Kyrie Irving and LeBron James combined for 76 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers battled to a 112-99 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday to move within one game of a place in the NBA Finals.
The win gives Cleveland a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and leaves them firmly on track for a third consecutive NBA Finals showdown against the Golden State Warriors.
Cleveland, stunned by Boston in Game 3 after romping two blowout wins in the opening two games of the Eastern Conference series, looked to be heading for another shock as the Celtics dominated the first half.
Boston powered into a 29-19 first quarter lead and maintained their 10-point cushion through to half-time, leading 57-47 at the break.
But as tension among Cleveland’s home fans mounted at the Quicken Loans Arena, it was left to Irving to ride to the rescue with a sensational, momentum-changing display in the third quarter.
Irving piled on 21 points in the third period as Cleveland turned their 10-point half-time deficit into an 87-80 lead at the end of the third quarter. Irving eventually finished with 42 points.
“Coming out at half-time, I just wanted to be aggressive and lead my guys and leave it all out there on the floor,” Irving said.
“We understand the goal out here and we want to accomplish something bigger than ourselves. It’s going to take a full 48 minute game to do it.”
James, determined to bounce back after a poor 11-point haul in Game 3, then steadied the Cleveland nerves in the fourth quarter, bringing the Cavaliers home for the win as Boston’s brave effort came up short.
James, who finished with 34 points, were joined in double figures by Kevin Love, who scored 17 points with 17 rebounds and five assists.
James, Irving and Love were the only three Cavs players to make double digits.
Boston, missing the injured Isaiah Thomas, had four players in double figures, with Avery Bradley scoring a leading 19 points.
Game 4 takes place in Boston on Thursday.
Irving said Cleveland would benefit from having been put under pressure by Boston in Game 3.
“We need to hit adversity in order to grow,” Irving said. “The only thing that matters now is to get a win back in Boston.”
First Published: May 24, 2017 09:21 IST