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Cavaliers close series gap to 2-1, beat the Celtics 116-86

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On a scale from one to fun, this game was a 2.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum? Good. Everyone else? Bad. The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 116-86. The Celtics now lead the series 2-1.

Boston got off to a terrible start in the first quarter. After just 5 turnovers total in Game 2, the Celtics threw the ball away 4 times in just the opening 12 minutes. The Cavaliers took advantage, getting going on the break. Jayson Tatum (18 points on 60% shooting) was the only Celtic player to really get a rhythm at any time in the game, let alone the first quarter. He had 6 in the first frame and 7 in the second quarter to enter the half with 13 points on 67% shooting.

George Hill (13 points), who was practically invisible all series, came out firing on all cylinders. After scoring 11 points in both Game 1 and Game 2 combined, Hill had 11 in just the first quarter alone. LeBron James (27 points & 12 assists) set him up, and Hill didn’t disappoint as he was accustomed to doing up until tonight. The James-Hill duo had Boston on the ropes enough for Brad Stevens to try out first quarter minutes for Guerschon Yabusele. That . . . didn’t go well. After that, Stevens went to Greg Monroe which also didn’t go extremely well. Stevens went to Semi Ojeleye after that, and that also didn’t go as ideally as he would have liked.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers, after spending most of Games 1 and 2 doing the “LeBron and watch” offense, actually shared the ball and played defense on the other end. Whether or not it was Cleveland’s defense that held Boston to 40% shooting from the field and 22% from 3-point range in the first half, the Celtics really had no flow on either end at any point in the first 24 minutes.

This was Boston’s lone, notable highlight from the first half as they went back to the locker room nursing a 61-41 deficit:

The beginning of the 3rd quarter wasn’t much better. The Cavaliers continued to do the things that made them successful in the first half, and the Celtics continued to do the things that hurt them and put them down by such a huge margin. The Cavaliers’ supporting cast didn’t let LeBron James down for once, and Boston paid the price. That carried over into the 4th quarter when the the Celtics unleashed a Abdel Nader-Semi Ojeleye-Guerschon Yabusele-Greg Monroe-Aron Baynes lineup in garbage time. My eyes are still bleeding.

Six Cavaliers finished in double digits, including a Kevin Love double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Cleveland finished shooting 49% from the field and 60% (17-34) on 3-pointers. Plagued by foul trouble, Jaylen Brown finished with 10 points while Terry Rozier finished with 13. The Celtics failed to get Al Horford going, and he finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds. Boston got nothing from either Marcus; Marcus Smart had 7 points on 22% shooting and Marcus Morris scored 9 on 25% shooting. It wasn’t pretty.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s a make-miss league. The Cavaliers made a lot of shots, and the Celtics missed a lot of shots. I wish I had more highlights to show you, but this game was low on highs. On the bright side, the Boston Celtics are still 2 wins away from the NBA Finals!

Game 4 is Monday at 8:30 PM EST.