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LeBron James and the Cavaliers Need to Finish Off the Celtics as Quickly as Possible

Submitted by on May 23, 2017 – 4:38 pmNo Comment

At halftime of Game 3 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, it didn’t seem like the Boston Celtics had any chance of pulling off a victory. They trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers by 16 points and, because they were without the services of their leading scorer and team leader Isaiah Thomas, it appeared as though they were going to fall behind 3-0 in the series and then get swept in Game 4, clearing the way for the Cavaliers to play the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals just as everyone predicted at the start of the regular season. But then, a funny thing happened. The Celtics started making every shot they took—at least it felt that way—and LeBron James started struggling from the field. And before long, the Celtics were back in the game and able to pull off a stunning 111-108 win thanks to a buzzer beater from Avery Bradley. It was improbable to say the least.

It was also a missed opportunity on the part of the Cavaliers. Just one day later, the Warriors swept the Spurs to advance to the Finals, which means Golden State will get about twice as much rest as the Cavaliers between now and the start of the Finals series, assuming, of course, Cleveland can bounce back to beat the Celtics in the ECF.

No one is doubting that the Cavaliers will be able to do just that. They are the better team. They have more talent. And they are not going to get another abysmal 11-point performance from LeBron like they did in Game 3. But—and this is a big but—the Cavaliers need to stop messing around and handle their business in Games 4 and 5. The Celtics are playing with house money right now, and they don’t really have anything to lose. So they are going to come out and play recklessly to try and keep things interesting. The Cavaliers need to stick to their guns and do what they did in Games 1 and 2 when they pulverized the Celtics in Boston, rather than what they did in Game 3 when they let them hang around and failed to put them away for good.

LeBron went on the record on Tuesday and said that he’s moving past Game 3 and focusing only on Game 4 right now. “We know what we did wrong in Game 3,” he said. “We know ways we can get better. I’m focused on the present, not the past.”

Now, LeBron needs to go out and take the lead. If the Cavaliers can win Games 4 and 5, they can get some rest and get focused for the Finals as soon as possible. But if they hang back like they did in Game 3 and fail to put Boston away, they could run the risk of putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage once the Finals roll around. So don’t be surprised if they come out and jump all over the Celtics tonight to regain clear control of the series.

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