The win is Boston's first of the series, reducing the gap to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. With Thomas said to be out for the remainder of the playoffs, Boston needs players to step up, and that's exactly what Smart did Sunday night. The only difference this time, is he missed most of the shots: 2 for 8 overall (25 percent) and 0 for 1 from beyond the three-point line. He had scored 30 or more in eight straight playoff games before falling into this crater.
Then through the power of FaceTime, Isaiah Thomas appeared, looking for his understudy.
"But I'm just happy for Jonas", he continued. And Brad's got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. "Just so sad that he's not here". "I feel like you have to have some sort of adversity to be successful".
"I said that before the series even started about Brad Stevens' ATOs", James said. "Everybody is confident", Smart said. "We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we got some things we can correct and come back ready to go on Tuesday (in Game 4)". Before Thomas' injury, he primarily held the ball on most plays allowing the Cavaliers to focus on one player.
"I felt like every shot is going in". Above he's watching as Avery Bradley's shot is about to bounce around the rim a few thousand times before settling inside the twine to give Boston the lead with.01 seconds left. "I mean, what do you want me to say", James responded.
I mention those other factors to illustrate that not everything can be on LeBron when the Cavs' command of the game turned around in the second half. "We had a game to play tonight".
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Bradley had a titanic moment on the grandest stage of his career, with the whole sequence feeling like a slow-motion move climax.
"I think when he goes home, he'll watch the game again", Smith said.
But there is plenty of runtime left on this potential blockbuster. Boston failed twice to beat the Cavaliers as they hosted them in TD Garden for the first two games of the series, but they did defeat Cleveland in their territory yesterday. Even LeBron didn't see it coming. When he gets going like that, he's tough to stop. They had a two game lead over the second place 51-31 Cavaliers. My teammates did a great job of keeping us in the game and building that lead. "We can't go back to Boston tied 2-2". Cleveland improved to 35-5 against Eastern teams in the playoffs since 2015. "We're just focused on Boston". It's the Eastern Conference finals. We've got a lot of guys with a lot of playoff minutes who've been in situations like that before.
"It was trying to read the game, the game between the game, and it worked well for us", he said. "It's going to be hard, but if we're able to do that and guard the three, I like our chances". In fact, it was the first game in LeBron's career that his team didn't win when up 20 or more points. He just made it over and over. They made a lot of plays. He's a really good defender.
James read the situation, too. "The percentages are pretty good".
The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.
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