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BOSTON – The lineups keep changing, but Brad Stevens still can’t find the winning solution. The Boston Celtics find themselves staring elimination in the face after LeBron James’ dominance propelled the Cleveland Cavaliers to an 103-95 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs First Round.
James, who had 31 points and 11 rebounds, looked like the playoff LeBron that led Miami to four straight Finals. He was a step ahead of every player on the court and was only held back by his occasional detrimental casualness.
The Celtics played even in nearly every area; except for the paramount category: the three-pointer. The Celtics made just five three-pointers to the Cavs’ 10.
The game was slipping away from Boston before a late fourth quarter run made it a competitive finish. Even a seemingly defining block by LeBron James on an Evan Turner dunk with less than 1:30 left was quickly cleaned up when Jae Crowder drew a foul on a putback. But Crowder missed his last free throw and Cleveland responded with a Love corner three to ice it.
No matter what the Celtics try to do, they are incapable of thwarting the inevitability of Tristan Thompson’s clutch offensive rebounding. After it won Cleveland Game 1 and helped them survive Game 2, Thompson grabbed two offensive rebounds in the final minutes, both leading directly to made threes.
The Celtics will try to extend the series Sunday at 3 pm.
Will the Celtics survive Game 4?
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