Sportress of Blogitude

Cavs cite ‘tough defense’ on Al Horford as key to Game 3 win

Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers earned a desperately needed 116-86 Game 3 win against the Boston Celtics to make it a 2-1 series. In the first two games, Cleveland looked over-matched by the Celtics’ young talent while struggling to defend and make open shots.

A major adjustment was needed to win Game 3, which was obviously critical for Cleveland. Cavaliers forward Kevin Love stated that Tristan Thompson’s ability to slow Al Horford was a major key for Game 3.

“Tristan has always been great in stepping up and taking the challenge in any series,” Love said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Tristan because Horford is really the one that makes them go. He can play a little bit of the point forward. He can do a lot of the intangibles that even for their team might not show up on the box score as well. But he did a great job on him tonight, and he’s done a great job on him the last two games.”

Horford was limited to seven points, seven rebounds and four assists on 2-for-4 shooting in Game 3. As a result, Thompson got going with 10 points and seven rebounds on 3-for-5 shooting and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Cavaliers role players also stepped up in the victory while all five starters scored in double figures. The Cavaliers’ backcourt also shined, a big step up after struggling mightily in the first two games, both on offense and defense.

In the first two games, the starting Cavaliers backcourt averaged 6.0 points per game on 21% shooting and 1-for-11 from three. Boston’s backcourt dominated, averaging 36.0 points per game on 48% shooting and 8-for-24 from beyond the arc.

The Cavaliers still have their backs against the wall, as they need a Game 4 win to take the series back to Boston knotted at two games apiece. If the Cavaliers lose Game 4, they would head back to Boston down three games to one; not that LeBron James has never came back from that deficit before. Boston, though, is undefeated at home in the playoffs.