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Game Preview: Cavs-Celtics Game 4 milestones and breakdown

Cleveland Cavaliers (2nd Seed) vs Boston Celtics (1st Seed)

Eastern Conference Finals – Game Four


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UPCOMING MILESTONES: LeBron James is four three-pointers away from making the 3rd most in NBA postseason history – passing Manu Ginobili. With 11 rebounds, Tristan Thompson pulls down the 2nd most in Cavaliers’ postseason history, passing Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

After their first loss in the 2017 Playoffs was handed to them in Game Three, the Cavaliers look to bounce back with energy and determination at home before heading back to Boston for a Game Five. After taking a 66-50 lead in the first half, the Wine-and-Gold began to lose a hold of the game with consecutive 21 point quarters to end the game – both marking the fewest scored in a quarter against the Celtics in the series so far. With the taste of defeat fresh in their minds, the Cavaliers will be looking to defend their home court and put themselves up 3-1 in the series.

In Game Three, only three Cleveland players were outscored while on the court – Tristan Thompson (-5), Kyle Korver (-8), and Iman Shumpert (-10). Despite this, not a single Cavalier had a +/- of over +5, with the highest belonging to Kevin Love (+4). Meanwhile, the Celtics had five players in the negative, with two players being outscored by double digits while on the court – Al Horford (-10) and Amir Johnson (-15). The difference makers for Boston came in the form of Jonas Jerebko (+22 in 12:32 minutes), Kelly Olynyk (+15), and Marcus Smart (+8). Most disappointing for the Cavaliers was LeBron James, who put up a paltry 11 points on 30.8% shooting – the fourth fewest points he has ever scored in a playoff game.

Despite the score, the Cavaliers still outrebounded the Celtics 46 to 38. However, the Wine-and-Gold had six more turnovers (15 to 9) and seven fewer assists (21 to 28). With Isaiah Thomas out due to a re-aggrivated hip injury, the offense began to flow through Marcus Smart, who had the more touches (104) and passes (82) than anyone else on either team. Drawing 12 more fouls than Boston, the Cavaliers shot 3 times as many free throws (36 to 12), with Tristan Thompson accounting for 15 foul shot attempts and 12 makes (80%).

Three keys for Game Four will be: (1) pass the ball, and find the open man. The Cavaliers made just 262 passes compared to Boston’s 333 in Game Three. (2) With Isaiah Thomas out, put pressure on Marcus Smart. As stated previously, he led both teams in touches and passes.  (3) Focus on contesting each shot properly, and put forth more effort on the defensive end. Although the Cavaliers shot a respectable 45.7% from the field and 41.0% from three, the Celtics were allowed to shoot 46.2% from the field and 45.0% from three. In addition, the Celtics had more deflections (15 to 12) and loose balls recovered (17 to 10).

Key players to watch for on the Celtics will be Al Horford (averaging 15.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per playoff game), Avery Bradley (averaging 15.9 points per playoff game), and Jae Crowder (averaging 13.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per playoff game).

Tipoff is set for 8:30 EST and will be broadcast on TNT.

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