Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: No Longer Perfect

Monday, May 22, 2017


Boston 111, Cleveland 108 (Cavs lead series 2-1)

 

Marcus Smart was incredible during the Celtics’ narrow Game 3 win over the Cavs on Sunday, scoring a career-high 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting (4-of-6 from the stripe) to go with seven 3-pointers (also a career-high), seven dimes, five boards, two steals, one block and two turnovers through 41 minutes of floor time. He was one of the primary reasons Boston was able to overcome a 21-point halftime deficit, scoring 19 of his 27 points through the second half of action, and making the Cavs pay dearly every time they ducked under his screens. He also saw his usage rate jump to 20.4 in this one (up from 16.1), and that’s likely a trend that will continue with him operating as the Celtics’ starting point guard sans Isaiah Thomas (hip). While it’s unlikely that the Celtics will be able to swing this series back in their direction, it was nice to see them come out with some heart after two really embarrassing losses, and now they’ll have at least one more chance to play in front of their home crowd in Boston.

 

It was a solid team effort for the Celtics, Jae Crowder came through with a 14-point, 11-board double-double to go with two triples, three assists and three steals in 40 minutes; Al Horford finished with 16 points, two boards, six assists, two treys and one steal in 36 minutes; and Avery Bradley put the nail in the coffin with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on his way to 20 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds, four assists and two steals in 42 minutes.

 

Jonas Jerebko also provided a nice spark with the second unit, connecting on all four of his shot attempts and ending his evening with 10 points, five boards, two triples, one assist and one block in 13 minutes off the bench while posting a plus/minus rating of plus-22. As you can see in the image below, Jerebko was the common thread in some of the Celtics best lineups during Sunday’s surprising victory, so he may have earned himself some more minutes for Tuesday’s Game 4.

 

D1

 

Another interesting thing to note about Jerebko’s impact during Game 3, in the 10 minutes that Jerebko, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart shared the floor, the Celtics outscored the Cavs 40-17.

 

So what happened for the Cavs? A little bit too much hero ball, some silly fouls during crunch time and a plethora of careless turnovers.

 

Let’s start with James, who was held to just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting (3-of-6 from the stripe) to go with six rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and an unfortunate six turnovers in 45 minutes. King James seemed somewhat disengaged throughout the contest, deferring to Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love a bit too often and overall he was pretty sloppy with the rock. James finished with a measly 22.7 usage rate (his lowest usage through any game of this year’s postseason thus far), and he also failed to score a single point through the final 16 minutes and 31 seconds of play. The Cavs coughing up the 21-point halftime lead also marked the largest blown lead of LBJ’s postseason career, but you can bet that he’ll come out with that assassin mentality for Game 4 on Tuesday.

 

Kevin Love posted a 28-point, 10-board double-double during the loss, to go with three assists, three blocks and seven trey-bombs through 36 minutes of floor time. Love seemingly couldn’t miss through the first half of action, scoring 22 of his 28 points on 7-of-11 shooting (7-of-10 from beyond the arc), but the law of averages caught up with him during the second half of action when he went just 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range. The Cavs had some pretty nice ball movement going through the first half, which resulted in a ton of wide open looks for Love, but when Cleveland’s hero ball tendencies started to emerge as Boston chipped away at their lead, Love became somewhat lost in the offense.

 

Kyrie Irving registered a team-high 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting to go with four triples, two rebounds, seven assists, one steal and three turnovers in 40 minutes. He was also a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe giving him a sterling true shooting percentage of 84.3, so he really didn’t have much trouble putting the ball through the basket despite now having to deal with Marcus Smart as his primary defender for most of the game.

 

The Cavs looked like they were on track to take a 3-0 lead in this Eastern Conference Finals matchup, but Boston came out of the halftime break with a ferocity that Cleveland would not/could not match, and ultimately some lackadaisical play cost the Cavs the game. That being said, I think the loss could be a good thing for the Cavs, as they got a little bit of a wake-up call here showing them that they need to outplay the team in front of them (and not out-talent them). I think this will very likely be the last win Boston comes away with in this series, but I’m glad they were able to make things interesting for at least one night after two really horrible games.

 

Injury Tracker

 

Amir Johnson briefly exited the game with a right shoulder strain, but he should be fine for Game 4 on Tuesday.

 

Kawhi Leonard (ankle) is doubtful to play in Game 4 against the Warriors on Monday, as is David Lee (knee).

 

Andre Iguodala (knee) is probable for Game 4, whereas Zaza Pachulia (heel) is questionable.



A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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