Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

Game 3 preview: LeBron James, Cavaliers aiming to chip away at Celtics lead

lebron-james-marcus-morris-051918-ftr
Marcus Morris contests a LeBron James floater (Getty Images)

No. 2 Celtics vs. No. 4 Cavs - Boston leads 2-0

As the series moves to Cleveland, the Cavaliers will try and chip away at the Celtics' 2-0 lead on Saturday evening.

On Saturday, Cleveland will be looking to grab a victory at Quicken Loans Arena, a place it has played excellent all postseason. The Cavaliers are 5-1 in The Land during the 2018 Playoffs, winning all five of those games in a row after dropping Game 1 of Round 1 to the Indiana Pacers.

In that five-game stretch, the Cavs are outscoring their opponents by nearly 10 points (107.2-97.8), while shooting 48.8 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from beyond the arc and 80.6 percent from the foul line. Cleveland has not allowed more than 100 points in four of its six home games this postseason.

According to history, the Cavs have also played well against Boston, specifically, in the playoffs. In fact, the franchise holds a 13-6 all-time home record versus Boston in the playoffs (7-3 at Quicken Loans Arena). They have also won eight of their last 11 home games against the Celtics dating back to the 2014-15 season (regular and postseason).

History also shows that being down 0-2 in a series isn't that big of a hole for the Cavs. There have been two times in franchise playoff history where Cleveland has comeback from a two-game deficit (2007 ECF vs. DET, 2016 Finals vs. GSW).

Of course, before the Cavs can even think about winning this series, they'll need to start chipping away at the Celtics' lead with help from their leaders.

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Sure Not Now

In Game 2, LeBron James tallied his third triple-double of the 2018 Playoffs (22nd of career) with a game-high 42 points on 16-29 (55.2 percent) shooting, including 5-11 (45.5 percent) from deep, 10 rebounds and a game-high 12 assists.

LBJ also rang up 21 points in the first quarter, which tied his playoff career high for points in any quarter (21 points in the first quarter at BOS on May 7, 2010). He has now set a playoff career-high with five 40-point games this postseason and leads the league in scoring at 33.4 points (on 54 percent shooting) points per game.

Kevin Love also had a strong Game 2 performance, notching his fourth double-double this postseason with 22 points on 9-of-18 (.500) shooting, a game-high 15 rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes on Tuesday. Over his last five playoff games, Love is averaging 22.8 points (50 percent from the field, 92.9 percent from the free throw line) and 11.2 rebounds while also shooting a playoff career-best 90.5 percent (38-42) from the foul line, which is the fourth-highest among all remaining players in the playoffs.

At the other end of the court, the formidable Celtics are earning a myriad of solid performances which has contributed to their two-game lead this series.

Big man Al Horford has been red-hot throughout the start of the East Finals, averaging 17.5 ppg on 56.5 percent shooting. In Game 2, specifically, Horford tallied a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds at the five-spot, while fellow starter, Jaylen Brown, has tallied two straight games with 23 points. Both scoring performances from Brown were game-highs while the shooting guard owns a field-goal percentage of 52.9.

Together as a team, the C's displayed their well-rounded scoring effort on Tuesday with six players recording double-digit scoring efforts (Brown-23, Rozier-18, Horford-15, Morris-12, Tatum-11, Smart-11). Marcus Smart's 11 points came of the bench in Boston's Game 2 win.

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