Avery shot counts Late drama as Boston pip Cavs

Doug Mendoza
May 24, 2017

The three-time National Basketball Association champion went 1/9 in the second half and literally vanished when his team needed him.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James surveys the floor during team warm ups. "I'm not going to criticize him one bit", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after his team won on a late three-point shot by Avery Bradley.

Following a timeout, the Celtics perfectly executed a play drawn up by Stevens and worked the ball to Bradley, who found himself open and then calmly knocked down a shot that goes straight into Celtics lore. "So when it bounced around, I was actually hoping it went in, obviously, but not completely disappointed that it was bouncing up there".

And if there is any lack of confidence from Cleveland's on-court leader, Smith will be there to remind James of his abilities.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who elevated to Thomas' starting role, scored 27 points and hit seven 3-pointers during Sunday's win. James failed to score at least 30 points on Sunday for the first time since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against IN, tallying 11 points, six rebounds, and six assists. The Cavs still lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 Tuesday in Cleveland (8:30 p.m., TNT).

"Once we were able to get together (May 20), we decided we're just going to play hard - whatever happens, happens", Bradley said.

'A lot of these guys have been overlooked, and this is their first opportunity to really play a meaningful role. It wasn't worth all four.

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It capped a furious comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over. However, the Celtics are a respectable 7-3 against the spread in their past 10 games away from TD Garden and have claimed outright victories in their past two games when pegged as road underdogs of seven or more points. Normally fundamentally sound, James committed six turnovers, stole only one pass and blocked just one shot. You let a team like that grab momentum you nearly knew a shot like that was going in I'm kind of glad it happened the way it did.

'It was like, you already knew. James finished with only 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting and got to the free-throw line just six times despite playing 45 minutes at home.

It was the fourth-lowest point total for James in 210 career playoff games.

James said he just had an off-night.

Even though Kyrie Irving (29 points) and Kevin Love (28 points) had great scoring games, it's tough for the Cavs to win with James scoring just 11.

There's no explaining why a player as dominant as LeBron suddenly becomes emotionally detached over the final quarter of a playoff game the Boston Celtics had no business winning. "I think that when you play better, you feel better". It's our job to go out there and make sure that we make the next right play. This is a debate that basketball fans have - when a superstar isn't on their game, should they press and try to find their groove or sit back and try to let other guys get theirs? "If it's a good play, bad play, whatever it is, we all believe in it. ..."

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