The Cleveland Cavaliers blew out the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals to get back into the series on Saturday night, and now comes the ever-pivotal Game 4. Can Cleveland continue the momentum and even the series, or will the Celtics regain control and take a 3-1 series lead back to Boston?
Here's a full Game 4 preview and prediction:
Game 4 Info
When: 8:30 p.m. EST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Spread: Cavs (-7)
Projected Starting Lineups (with playoff stats)
G Terry Rozier – 17.1 ppg, 5.4 apg, 5.4 rpg
G Jaylen Brown – 17.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg
F Jayson Tatum – 18.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F Marcus Morris – 12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
C Al Horford – 16.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg
G George Hill – 9.0 ppg, 2.1 apg
G J.R. Smith – 8.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg
F LeBron James – 32.9 ppg, 9.4 apg, 8.9 rpg
F Kevin Love – 15.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg
C Tristan Thompson – 5.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg
What they're saying about the Boston Celtics:
Are the Celtics’ struggles on the road this postseason uncommon? (Boston.com)
Celtics disappointed with Game 3, vow better play in Game 4 (ESPN)
Watch: Jaylen, Jayson & Terry talk what went wrong in Game 3 (Celtics Life)
What they're saying about the Cleveland Cavaliers:
LeBron James is making 3s again, which he says is no big deal (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
George Hill once again proves how important he is to the Cavs’ success (NEO Sports Insiders)
Tyronn Lue: LeBron James played 'one of his best games in a long time' during Game 3 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Key to the game:
Will Cleveland show up on defense?
Most of the takeaways after Game 3 centered around LeBron finally getting some help from his teammates, but the biggest reason why they won that game was their defense - a defense that was largely non-existent during Games 1 and 2 in Boston. Cleveland was switching all pick-and-rolls and making crisp rotations, something they've been very lackadaisical with often during the postseason.
How much of a difference did that change in effort make? After giving up an average of 107.5 points on 47.2 percent shooting in Games 1 & 2, they held Boston to 86 points on just 39.2 percent shooting in Game 3. They need to maintain their energy on that end of the floor if they're going to win Game 4.
Prediction: Cavs win 110-97
Cleveland's role players stepped up in Game 3 while Boston's had their worst performances of the series. Why? Role players traditionally play better at home than they do on the road and I expect that to continue for the Cavs - especially considering the Celtics are just 1-5 on the road this postseason.