For the first time in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to dictate the terms of play in Game 3. Here’s what they need to do to go back to Boston with the series tied.
Let the offense run through LeBron
LeBron James needs to be the facilitator for the Cavaliers offense to be successful. James has averaged 10 assists per game in this series, but quite frankly he can do better. If Lebron can get everyone else involved in the offense early, it will open up the floor for him in the later stages of the game.
Contain Jaylen Brown and Al Horford
Jaylen Brown has been one of the best players for the Celtics in this series. He scored 23 points in both Games 1 and 2, but the Cavaliers limited him to only 10 points in Game 3. His limited production in Game 3 allowed the Cavaliers to give more attention to Al Horford.
In Games 1 and 2, Al Horford dominated Kevin Love and whoever else Cleveland decided to throw at him. He scored 20 points in Game 1 and ended up with a double-double in Game 2. The Cavaliers decided to try a different approach in Game 3, having Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr guard the veteran center. The two athletic big men for the Cavaliers were able to reduce Horford’s effectiveness on the pick and roll, which in turn stunted the Celtics offense.
Shooters must be effective
The Cavs’ sharpshooters will undoubtedly be confident after their performance in Game 3. One man that needs to continue to get open looks is Kyle Korver. Korver went 5-for-5 from the field (4-for-4 from deep) in Game 3 and has the potential to be the difference maker in Game 4.
Additionally, after being held without a three in both Games 1 and 2, J.R. Smith heated up in Game 3. The streaky guard went 3-for-4 behind the arc and will be looking to keep his hot hand going in Game 4.
Cleveland dominated Boston in Game 3, but I highly doubt that will happen again in Game 4. With the potential to take a 3-1 series lead heading back to Boston, Brad Stevens will have his team fired up and ready to go. That being said, I believe the Cavaliers will win a highly contested Game 4.