CLEVELAND – There was a quiet furor to LeBron James ahead of Game 4. He stampeded onto the court in warmups, knocked down his shots, and ran back to the locker room.
His aggressiveness hurt him early as he committed four fouls in a half for the first time in his career. But after Kyrie Irving’s incredible 21-point third quarter, LeBron closed it out with a perfect fourth quarter to secure a 112--99 Cleveland Cavaliers win.
The Cavs head back to Boston for Game 5 with a chance to clinch another trip to the NBA Finals.
The Celtics started Kelly Olynyk and found great offensive synergy in the first quarter, executing to perfection throughout the opening frame. They went to Olynyk on several misdirection plays for looks at the rim, while swinging the ball sharply to find open shooters and race out to a 29-18 first quarter lead.
Not only did Jae Crowder come out shooting 3 for 3 from deep, but he was also able to disrupt LeBron James in the half court enough to keep momentum in the Celtics’ favor.
While the Cavs caught up in the second quarter, LeBron drew four fouls in the half. Every time Cleveland would get out on a run, the Celtics would have something to answer back. If it weren’t for Kyrie Irving, they wouldn’t have had a chance to get back in the game.
All this posturing set up the third quarter, where Kyrie demonstrated the type of performance that could only happen on a flat earth. He scored 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting, with most of his buckets coming either as contested three-point daggers or acrobatic layups. Irving finished the third quarter at 39 points for the game.
The Celtics saw their 10-point halftime lead collapse under the pressure of Irving’s onslaught and walked into the fourth quarter playing catch up right as LeBron started to find some rhythm. Cleveland carried a 49-29 run from halftime to the middle of the fourth quarter and held a steady lead heading into the closing moments.