May. 26, 2017
Cavs v Celtics ECF Game 4 Breakdown
Game 4 is in the dust, and what a show both teams gave us!
Probably the most entertaining, thrilling and balanced game of this series so far, resulted in the Cavaliers taking a decisive 3-1 lead over the #1 seed; The Boston Celtics.
Boston started the game exceptionally strong, drilling threes early with terrific ball movement and offensive awareness, whereas the Cavaliers were replicating their strong movement and cuts, but were struggling to hit uncontested shots, letting the Celtics finish the first quarter on a strong 29-19 performance; with 19 being Cleveland's playoff low for a quarter. The Celtics were able to balance their scoring effectively with 4 players scoring 15 + points, but Game 3 MVP Marcus Smart was not able to replicate his performance going 1-9 from the field, missing all 4 of his attempts inside the 3 point line.
After his woeful showing in Game 3, Lebron James was able to bite back in Game 4; eventually. James struggled offensively early in the game going 2/6, and facing foul trouble early in the game, collecting his 4th with 6 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter, forcing him to ride the bench for the remainder of the half. Thankfully, he came out re-energized in the 3rd, helping spark Kyrie Irving's dominance and followed that up with scoring 15 points himself (totalling 34) in the fourth helping to wrap the game up nicely for the sold out crowd.
Facing a deficit of 16 towards the end of the 2nd quarter, with Lebron James seated, Kyrie 'Uncle Drew' Irving took the game into his own hands, trimming the lead to 10 at the half; and then came the Kyrie Irving Show. Lebron re-enters the game, and with Kevin and Kyrie, they start with a strong 11 - 2 run, to put them back within 1 possession, and as stated; Kyrie Irving took over the game. He became an unstoppable freak who the Celtics had no answer for. Playing isolation and driving to the rim possession after possession; flashy layups, and-ones, drilling contested threes. He single-handedly brought the lead back to Cleveland, scoring 19 of the Cavs final 21 points; including a heat check from well behind the three point line to close the period. At one point, he fell on his ankle and seemed to tweak it in pain, yet played on like a trooper and helped led this team one game closer to the promised land with a spectacular 15 of 22 shooting performance, with 4/7 from deep and 8 of 9 from the charity stripe to go.
The refereeing was a bit touch and go, especially throughout the second half with numerous questionable calls going both ways, with even the commentators of the TNT broadcast; Marv Albert, Chris Webber and Reggie Miller discussing the refs giving out too many 'make-up calls', to counter missed or wrong calls they may have already made. This was a noticeable issue, but didn't skew the favour too drastically either way in particular, thankfully.
Neither team performed exceptionally from deep, both hitting 10, with the Celtics admittedly attempting 9 more than the Cavaliers. The second half turnaround for Cleveland was unprecedented, with them shooting 17/38 in the first half and jumping this drastically up to 27 of 36 in the 2nd half, led by Kyrie's marvellous 9 of 10 shooting in the third quarter. The Celtics played admirably and with a great team effort, assisting on 74% of their field goals, with the Cavaliers doing the same only on 52% of their makes in comparison.
Kevin Love unfortunately won't be spoken about by the media or get the recognition he should for the game he played today, being overshadowed by Lebron's hit-back and Kyrie's new playoff career high of 42 points, but quietly Kevin pulled down 17 rebounds (a playoff career high), 17 points on 46% shooting (3/5 from deep), tossing 5 assists and 2 blocks on the defensive end as well. He won't be spoken about, but his input was crucial to this Cavalier's team victory.
The Cavaliers must now fly back to Boston Garden and be prepared to take this one on the road again and make history with the Warriors, becoming the first teams to face-off against each other in three consecutive years in their championship series in any American code. We may be blessed with Cavs v Warriors III in the ultimate rubber match to determine which team truly comes out on top of this intense rivalry. Will Cleveland close out this series on the road in The Garden, or do the Celtics have more fight left within them?
I'd call this series as good as done, with the Cavaliers winning in 5, in two days time and getting the excitement ready for The Finals. Could the Cavs repeat?
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