Regular Season Cavs return for Game Three Loss

After historical dominance through two games in Boston, the Cleveland Cavaliers took a major step backward in Game 3.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the Cavaliers were so much better than Boston through two games that half-serious water cooler discussions were had about whether or not the NBA should implement a mercy rule. The point spread in Game 3 was 17 points. According to a reputable sportsbook, over 80% of the action was in favor of the Cavs. All signs pointed to another ugly game.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the regular season "what's wrong with these guys?" Cleveland Cavaliers showed up just in time for the second half of Game 3. 

In the first half, the Cavs looked great: Love and Irving combined for what felt like 100 three-pointers, Boston continued to miss their half-decent looks, and Cleveland led by 16. But in the second half... yikes. 

The Cavs, who had game planned to stop Isaiah Thomas, seemed unsure of what their new game plan would be with Thomas sidelined. The answer, apparently, was no game plan at all. Marcus Smart - who is very possibly the worst high-volume three-point shooter in NBA history at this point - went 7-10 from deep. The entire Celtics team went 11-22 on three-pointers in the second half while the Cavaliers missed just about every shot they took.

In short, the Cavs blew a game in which they led by 21. They let an inferior team with a system-based approach and a swarming defense take control. Cleveland reverted to iso-ball about six minutes earlier than usual (late in the 3rd instead of midway through the 4th), and it cost them dearly.

There were still moments for the Cavaliers. Kevin Love's outlet pass to LeBron James has been shared all over r/NBA and Twitter. Kyrie Irving had some beautiful drives to the rim. LeBron had a couple of nice plays on an off night. And best of all, Tristan Thompson had a phenomenal game, including what felt like 15 offensive rebounds (seven, in reality) and a thunderous blocked shot.