CLEVELAND -- At first, the three-point shot was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ greatest asset, but when needed most, they could not summon any makes from long distance, and it cost them dearly in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
A last-second three-pointer from guard Avery Bradley gave the Boston Celtics a 111-108 win over the Cavaliers in Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday night.
“Coming out, we were going to switch, one through five,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “They ran like a point-loop action, I call it, and Crowder curled. Then, the switch got confused and we didn't get a chance to switch out. Then, Horford did a great job of pinning Tristan so he couldn't get out to the shooter.”
After making 14 of their first 22 looks from long distance, the Cavaliers made just two of their 11 attempts from three-point range in the fourth quarter, both from shooting guard J.R. Smith over the last five-plus minutes of play, and just two of 17 following the halftime break.
Conversely, the Celtics buried five of their 11 three-point tries in the fourth quarter and 11 of their 22 attempts after the intermission.
During that fourth quarter, the Cavaliers committed six turnovers, which led to four Boston points. Also, the Cavaliers gave up four offensive rebounds, which led to seven second-chance points, including two in the last three minutes that led to a three-pointer.
“Turning the basketball over, offensive rebounds,” Lue said. “We had some stops at times and couldn't rebound the basketball. A lot of fourth-quarter turnovers gave them life.
“We're collapsing, trying to rebound the ball, we don't get it, kick-out three. That's one way to get back in the game, but with that being said, we still have to be better. Rebound the basketball, be better defensively, and also, take care of the basketball.”
Although the Cavaliers got production out of the starting lineup, they had no answer for Boston’s bench, as Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko combined for 25 points. As a whole, Boston’s reserves outscored the Cavaliers bench, 32-9.
Additionally, the Celtics outscored the Cavaliers, 36-24, in the paint, 18-13 in second-chance points and 6-2 on the fast break.
“They moved the ball, like Double-T said -- 28 assists -- and they kept us at bay,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “We couldn't get stops. We couldn't get out in transition a lot. Those guys made plays. They made a lot of plays. They got some second-chance points. We only had two fast-break points, so they neutralized what we wanted to do.”