Inside the Q for Game 3

Quicken Loans Arena (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Quicken Loans Arena (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers jumped out to a quick lead, never looked back, and gave the fans exactly what they came for.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Cleveland Cavaliers-Boston Celtics Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night. What an experience it was. The Cavaliers jumped out to an early 1st quarter lead, and never let up, resulting in a convincing 116-86 victory to make it a 2-1 series.    

Tensions were high prior to the game as it seemed that there was a metaphorical cloud hanging over the city (and also some very non-metaphorical thunder clouds) after the two rough losses in Boston.

I spent the day with a large group of Cavs fans and most were down on the Cavs prospects in this series. Personally, I was worried about Cleveland’s continuing inability to match-up with the Celtics starting five on defense, and Coach Lue’s inability to make in-game adjustments to keep up with Brad Stevens.     

Thankfully, for the Cleveland faithful, the struggles from Games 1 and 2 were nowhere to be found on Saturday.

From the opening tip, the Cavaliers locked down on defense and forced key turnovers all over the court. The fans immediately responded to the increased success on defense, and it seemed to both bolster the efforts of the Cavaliers, and finally throw off these young Celtics.   

The C’s appear to just be a different team away from Boston (they are still undefeated at home in this year’s playoffs.)

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Jason Tatum was solid in terms of scoring with 18 points, but otherwise contributed next to nothing (1 reb/1 ast.) Al Horford was almost invisible with only 7 points on 4 shots. Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier both took a step back from their play in Games 1 and 2 as well.

From my perspective in the nosebleeds though, Jaylen Brown looked the most uncomfortable in Cleveland. He was in foul trouble almost the whole night and didn’t contribute much on offense or defense. If this continues in Game 4, the Celtics will certainly be in a bit of trouble.

From a Cavaliers perspective, things were rocking and rolling pretty much from the jump.

George Hill set the tone with 11 first-quarter points, and both J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver regained their shooting form. Kevin Love and Lebron James combined for only 40 points, which is a lot less than most expected the Cavs would need from them in order to win.

Lebron played more of the floor general role than go to scorer in this one, and it worked flawlessly. There was, however, one basket from him that definitely set the tone.

I’m talking of course about that huge reverse dunk following a sweet bounce pass from Kevin Love. That play just about blew the roof off the Q. I’ve been to over 50 Cavs games since Lebron returned and seen some mind-blowing plays, but very few times have I heard a roar quite like that.

*Also, the performance of the Scream 5-year-old Tavaris Jones at halftime was a ton of fun.  

After the game, we stayed downtown for a bit to continue the celebration, and the city just felt alive. Downtown Cleveland is one of my favorite places on Earth, and especially so after a big weekend Cavaliers or Indians victory (or I suppose a big Browns victory as well, but I have never experienced one of those.)

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The excitement carried over to Monday night, and the Cavaliers force this series to go back to Boston tied 2-2. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I need to go cash in my ticket for a free 10-piece nugget as the Cavs eclipsed 100 points for the second straight game.