Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket between Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) during the second half in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.
The defending National Basketball Association champions, who shot 71 percent in the second half, opened a 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap up their third straight conference title - and a "three-match" against the Warriors - with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston. Boston finished the half, strong to push the lead back to 10 points, 57-47.
CLEVELAND (AP) - Kyrie Irving gritted his teeth, tightened up his left sneaker and hopped to his feet.
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.
The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics by 17 with Irving on the floor during his magical third quarter. But it's a reminder that when the lights finally get bright in a week against the Warriors, the Cavs will need LeBron at his peak for every single game. The arguments that the Celtics are better without Thomas are ridiculous, and it's obvious they could have used him during the fourth quarter of Game 4. As Fox Sports' Dieter Kurtenbach pointed out after the shocking win, the Celtics never gave up, showing a consistent effort in a game that everyone expected to be another blowout.
The Eastern Conference Finals showdown between the Celtics and Cavaliers had already been marked by the usual and unexpected entering Game 4. Down 49-33, it was Irving to the rescue, who scored the next 10 points in a 10-2 Cleveland run.
He ended the half scoring 12 of the Cavs final 14 points. He was 7-of-7 in the paint in the third quarter alone, numerous hoops coming on his trademark drives and using English and the backboard to get the ball into the hoop. Stevens said Thomas may consult with two additional specialists. "He was just waiting for an opportunity to blossom".
Warriors, Spurs will try to use break to rest and heal again
Against a team like Golden State, throwing the kitchen sink at him in the low block, life isn't as simple as "just go score". Unfortunately, you will be needing an authentication with your cable provider should you want to watch San Antonio Spurs vs.
And lest we forget Jonas Jerebko, who personified "persona non grata" since the playoffs started, showed a little of that missing fight the Celtics have had this season. "I was happy to sit back and watch him. He was born for these moments".
"No blame (on James)", Lue said. But somehow, someway, Boston clawed its way back as James could not get anything going.
"I think he's going to be aggressive (in Game 4)", Boston shooting guard Avery Bradley said.
After the Celtics took a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter, James and Irving reached a new gear, and Boston was doomed.
Cavs' superstar LeBron James had a rare off night with 11 points on 4-13 shooting, to go along with six rebounds and six assists. LeBron was certainly not in the mood to talk after the game, and when a reporter tried to get to the bottom of LeBron's poor performance, King James shrugged.
That may be most true about what we saw from the Cavaliers, and in particular LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, on Tuesday night. That's the answer. Kyrie Irving was incredible. He was the scoring engine in the second half, putting up 19 and inspiring his teammates with fearless play. But they deserve credit.
And as WWE star Steve Austin used to say before the big event in another sport much-beloved by conspiracy theorists: "And That's the Bottom Line Cuz' Stone Cold Said So!"