CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers found much success from three-point range against the Boston Celtics in the first half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Quicken Loans Arena, but it was a far different story after the break Sunday night.
The Cavaliers made just two of their 17 three-point attempts in the second half, and that lull in offense led to a 111-108 loss to the Celtics, Cleveland’s first of the postseason.
“I thought we fell in love with the three a little bit too much,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Making 14 the first half, in the second half I thought we were seeking the three instead of attacking. I thought we had opportunities to attack and play with pace and get downhill, but we didn't really push it and play with that speed and try to attack offensively.”
After making 14 of their first 22 tries from long distance, the Cavaliers made just two of their 11 looks from three-point range in the fourth quarter, both from shooting guard J.R. Smith over the last five-plus minutes of play, and only two of 17 following the halftime break.
Conversely, the Celtics buried five of their 11 three-point tries in the fourth quarter.
“I thought our pace was bad, especially in that second half,” Lue said. “I thought we got stops, but we didn't play with that speed, that pace and that force that we've been playing with. They were able to get back and get their defense set, and we really didn't attack the way we're capable of attacking.”
Led by five triples from power forward Kevin Love, the Cavaliers knocked down nine of their 13 looks from three-point range (69.2 percent) and hit 11 of their 17 overall shots from the field on the way to a 35-24 lead after the first quarter.
Love went seven of 10 from three-point range over that first half. Additionally, point guard Kyrie Irving knocked down all four of his looks from long distance, and Smith buried both of his attempts from beyond the arc.
“It is definitely a balance because obviously, they know he's hot, too, so they know we're going to look for him,” shooting guard J.R. Smith said of Love.
“Within the same breath, we have to take our shots. Myself, Ky, 'Bron had a few. We've got to take our shots, regardless of whose fire -- if you're open, you've got to shoot the ball. I understand looking for somebody, too, but it's definitely a balance for it.”
Heading into Game 4, Lue wants the Cavaliers to be aggressive, much like they were in a dominant Game 2 win in Boston, when they played inside-out for 48 minutes on the way to a record-setting 130-86 victory in TD Garden.
“We've just got to take what the defense gives us,” Lue said. “We can't make things up or just seek guys out.
“When we've got opportunities for guys to have open shots, you've got to take those shots. Kevin being one of our focal points offensively, he's going to get his attempts. But other guys, when they're open, you've got to take your shots or drive the basketball when you have opportunities.”