STUN­NING COME­BACK

Celtics edge Cava­liers on Bradley’s last-sec­ond shot

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES

AVERY Bradley rat­tled in a game-win­ning three pointer at the buzzer as the Bos­ton Celtics clawed their way back into the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal with a 111-108 win over Cleve­land on Sun­day.

Bos­ton cut the Cava­liers se­ries lead to 2-1 as their im­prob­a­ble vic­tory came de­spite the ab­sence of star guard Isa­iah Thomas, who is out for the re­main­der of the NBA sea­son with a hip in­jury.

“Ev­ery­body had to step up their game, es­pe­cially with one of our broth­ers down,” Thomas’ re­place­ment Mar­cus Smart said.

“We haven’t re­ally had a great shoot­ing per­for­mance this se­ries, but tonight was one of those nights. We fought and came out with the vic­tory.”

Game four of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals is to­day.

Cleve­land not only sur­ren­dered a 21-point lead in game three but blew chances to set a play­off record for con­sec­u­tive wins (14) dat­ing to game five of last year’s fi­nals, and to be­come the fourth team in his­tory to start the play­offs 11-0.

“I didn’t have it tonight,” James said. “We have been play­ing so well, but when an­other team are play­ing that well then you know that the team that get the last shot are go­ing to win.”

Smart scored a ca­reer-high 27 points and Bradley added 20.

“The key for us was to chip away,” said Bradley of the Celtics, who made 18 three-point­ers for the game. “We needed to get stops and make plays on the of­fen­sive end.”

Al Hor­ford added 16 points and Kelly Olynyk con­trib­uted 15 off the bench for the Celtics, who were beaten by an aver­age of 28.5 points in the first two games.

The Celtics also kept Cava­liers su­per­star LeBron James in check on Sun­day. James fin­ished with just 11 points on four-of-13 shoot­ing and was held score­less in the fourth quar­ter. He also had five turnovers.

Kyrie Irv­ing paced the Cleve­land of­fence with 29 points and Kevin Love added 28 points and 10 re­bounds. Tris­tan Thomp­son scored 18 points.

The Cava­liers shot just twoof-17 from three-point range in the sec­ond half but still led by as many as 21 points in the third. Cleve­land dom­i­nated the Celtics so thor­oughly in the first two games that not many gave Bos­ton a chance on Sun­day, es­pe­cially with­out their top player Thomas in the lineup.

But Cleve­land coach Ty­ronn Lue ex­pected Bos­ton to bat­tle to the end.

“They have a scrappy team,” he said.

Com­ing into Sun­day’s con­test, the Cava­liers had lost just one game at home to an Eastern team in the play­offs dat­ing to 2015.

“You have to have some type of ad­ver­sity to be suc­cess­ful,” James said. “So I am happy it hap­pened now. We have to re­group and get back to play­ing des­per­ate bas­ket­ball.”

RE­SULT — NBA Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal play­off (best-of­seven se­ries): Bos­ton 111 Cleve­land 108 (Cleve­land lead 2-1).

EPA PIC

Cleve­land’s Kyrie Irv­ing (left) drib­bles past Bos­ton’s Avery Bradley in Ohio on Sun­day.

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