In what many NBA fans called one of the stranger results in recent memory, the Boston Celtics notched their first win of the Eastern Conference Finals last night in a Game 3 111-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Most of the blame fell on the off night for Cavaliers and NBA legend LeBron James, whose 11 points last night is one of the lowest totals in James’ lengthy playoff career. “Me personally, I didn’t have it. That’s all I’ve got to say about my performance,” James said in the post game press conference, noticeably dejected. James didn’t seem to be willing to pin his performance on an improved defense by Boston, saying, “No, they didn’t mix up the coverage. They did a good job of sprinting back, leveling to the ball, doubling me a little bit more in the post. But like I said, my performance personally was all on me.” James’ frustration was added on to after the game when he was heckled on his way to the news conference by a fan.
While James’ lack of point scoring was very visible, some Cavaliers sources believe that James was trying to ride the momentum of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who both had excellent first halves (17 and 22 points respectively). “[James] kept feeding them and tried to let the game come to him, and he got out of rhythm a little bit,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said when asked about James.
James was particularly hampered in the second half, where he went one for eight with one rebound, one assist, one steal and three turnovers. Boston took advantage and made a huge comeback in the third quarter, when Marcus Smart scored 19 of his 27 total points after halftime. The win was sealed with a clutch three-point shot by Avery Bradley, with 0.1 seconds on the clock.