CLEVELAND--The Cavaliers came out and showed the Boston Celtics the long ball--early and often.
Unfortunately for the Cavs, the Celtics decided to use it themselves and hit 11 in the second half, including Avery Bradley's buzzer beater to give Boston a 111-108 win in Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena in front of a sell out crowd of 20,562 fans. The Cavs lead the series, 2-1 and play Game 4 Tuesday night. The loss snapped the Cavs 13-game playoff win streak.
The Cavs hit 14 three's in the first half, but it went away in the third quarter as they missed 11-straight in the second half, including all six of their attempts in the third quarter and first five of the fourth quarter until J.R. Smith hit a big three to give the Cavs the lead back 98-95. It was the Cavs first three-point shot made in the second half and it didn't come until less than six minutes remained in the game.
Meanwhile, the Celtics turned to the long ball with star Isaiah Thomas out with a hip injury and hit nine treys to come back from a 21-point Cleveland lead to tie the game 95-95 with 5:33 when Marcus Smart hit his seventh three-ball of the game. Smart led the Celtics with 27 points.
Tyronn Lue wasn't happy with the Cavs giving up a 21-point lead in the second half and said being careless with the ball was a big factor.
"Turnovers and turning the ball over," Lue said. "We weren't as physical as we need to be and they made a game of it and made a shot down the stretch."
The Cavs turned the ball over 15 times, including six by LeBron James.
James wasn't happy with the performance of the team or himself.
"Momentum," James said. "That's what happens when you let them get the momentum going.
"I couldn't get anything going," he said. "You knew that last shot was going to go in (at the end of the game) the way we let it get away from us."
Brad Stevens was happy with the way his team responded after a 44-point loss on Friday.
"We've got guys that have chips on their shoulders and their game has risen," Stevens said. "We knew Friday's game was a disaster. It was only one game and we moved on."
The Cavs were led by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who had 29 and 28 points, respectively. Tristan Thompson had 18 points. LeBron James, who had scored 30 or more points in eight-straight playoff games scored just 11 points. Smith had 13 points.
The Cavs kept up their fast start with a 35-24 first quarter, led by a three-ball assault led by Love who hit five in the opening period. Overall, the Cavs shot 69.2 percent from behind the arc in the first quarter going 9-of-13. Irving hit all three of his three-point attempts in the opening frame. Love had 15 points in the first quarter, while Kyrie Irving had 12 points.
The Cavs kept up the long range assault on in the second quarter and finished with 14 treys in the first half led by Love's seven. Irving was 4-of-4 from long range and Smith was 2-of-2. Cleveland shot 63.6 percent in the first half. and led by as many as 18 points on a three-ball by Smith, 66-48 with 21 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Cavs extended their lead early in the third quarter and led by 21 with 6:38 left 77-56 on put back by Thompson, but Boston battled their way back and cut the deficit to five points at 87-82 after three quarters. After hitting 14 three's in the first half, the Cavs had none in the third quarter.
James said he thinks the Cavs will bounce back.
"We have to crack down and get better," James said. "We look forward to the challenge. It's a loss in the postseason. We let our foot off the gas, but we have to play a lot better in Game 4."
Lots of Love: Kevin Love didn't record his first rebound until 3:15 remained in the second quarter. Meanwhile, he scored 22 points in the first half, hitting 7-of-10 from behind the arc. Love finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Double T: Tristan Thompson was big for the Cavs with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Thompson was 12-of-15 from the free throw line.
Three Ball: After hitting 63.9 percent in the first on 14-of-22, the Cavs missed all six of their attempts in the third quarter and their first five of the fourth quarter before J.R. Smith hit a three. Cleveland finished 16-of-39 (41 percent) with Smith hitting the only two treys in the second half.
Bright Side: The Cavs have never lost a series when leading 2-0. They are 14-0 in that situation. They also hold a 9-0 series record when up 3-0. The Cavs are 34-4 dating back to 2015 against and the Eastern Conference in the playoffs and 17-2 at home.
The King: LeBron James had 5,915 points, just 73 points away from passing Michael Jordan (5,987) to become the top scorer in NBA postseason history to start the game. James is the first NBA player to have eight-straight games with at least 30 points in single postseason since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had nine in a row during the 1970 playoffs. James scored just 11 points to give him 5,926, 62 short of passing Jordan.
In the House: The Browns three first round draft picks this year were introduced in Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku. Also Joe Haden and Corey Coleman were shown. Actress Amy Schumer and comedian Dave Chapelle were at the Q as well.
Turnovers: The Cavs turned the ball over 15 times and had just 21 assists. James led in both departments with six assists and six turnovers.
Next Up: The Cavs will look to bounce back in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night at 8:30 pm against the Celtics. Game 5 will be in Boston on Thursday night.