Irving's 42 carry Cavs to win, 3-1 lead over Celtics

Erica Murray
May 27, 2017

But beyond James' foul trouble, the Cavs were having other issues as the Celtics outplayed them at both ends while opening a 16-point lead.

But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won't be easy.

Yet, Lue says that the Celtics' unpredictability - born out of necessity with Thomas shutting his season down at halftime of Game 2 because of a hip injury - has made things hard after he had to scrap his defensive orders all catered towards limiting Thomas.

Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points despite playing on a tender ankle, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an nearly inevitable third date in the NBA Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

LeBron had four fouls in the first half of Game 4 against Boston. Cavs F LeBron James trails Michael Jordan (5,987 points) by just 28 points for first place in National Basketball Association playoff history in scoring.

It's also why Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said that his team must keep all thoughts of being on the cusp of a return to the NBA Finals at bay for now.

While Irving's scoring ignited the Cavs' comeback, it was made possible thanks to Cleveland's defensive effort over the final 24 minutes.

Irving had led a 17-point swing in the quarter.

"We have to go in with a bunker mentality that we had in Game 1 and Game 2, to go out and do what we do, but we have to defend", James said. "We needed everything tonight".

Irving stayed on the floor for several seconds before sitting up and re-tying his sneaker.

"It was one of those games we had to fight through and we had to earn it", he said.

"With Isaiah going down, that's 29 points a game and now you got to scheme and try to do something for a whole 'nother system", said Lue of Thomas, who actually averaged 23.3 points per game in the playoffs. "The ones we gotta look at are the ones he got at the rim".

With the Celtics suddenly challenging the Cavs after Cleveland won Games 1 and 2 by a combined 57 points, Lue was asked if Boston might be better without Thomas, its All-Star and face of the franchise.

Everyone will have one eye on Irving's left ankle.

They've given themselves a chance to erase the sting of their 44-point loss in Game 2.

James left the game with 6:46 remaining in the second quarter with four fouls.

Celtics: Thomas spoke to coach Brad Stevens and told him that he has visited one hip specialist and plans to see more before it's decided if he needs surgery.

"I feel like we're humble enough to know we haven't played well at home", he said. "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's (offense) for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing". Thomas initially injured his hip in March and played the final two months of the regular season before aggravating it during the playoffs. He rolled it late in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier's foot. Cavs G J.R. Smith and his wife brought home from the hospital their baby daughter Dakota, who had been in a Cleveland-area NICU since her birth in January.

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