LeBron's off night a major factor in Celtics' shocking Game 3 win

LeBron's off night a major factor in Celtics' shocking Game 3 win

CLEVELAND –  LeBron James has had a bad night or two in the playoffs before, but Sunday’s clunker ranks pretty damn high among his all-time worst playoff performances.

Let me put it you this way.

Kelly Olynyk, serenaded with a steady chorus of boos from the Q Arena crowd, still managed to score 15 points.

LeBron James?

He had 11 … for the game!



Take a screen shot of that folks, because the chances of that happening in a game, one in which James doesn’t get hurt except for maybe his feelings, is slim.

But it did happen, and it was a major factor in Boston shocking the NBA world in knocking off the Cavs 111-108 in Game 3 following a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Avery Bradley.

For James’ part, he finished with just 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting which included him going scoreless in the fourth while missing all three of his shots in the quarter. He was also rolling some serious sixes statistically – six rebounds, six assists and (gulp!) six turnovers.

There were no foul issues for James other than his mood after the game (can you blame him?) or an injury he was dealing with.

James, the best player on the planet, had what amounts to one of the worst playoff games in his 14 NBA seasons.

When reminded that he had a tough second half in which he only scored three points, James responded, “I had a tough game, period. Not just in the second half. Me personally, I didn’t have it. My teammates did a great job of keeping us in the game, building that lead. But me personally, I didn’t have it. That’s all I’ve got to say about my performance.”

As far as the Celtics’ game plan defensively against James, head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that there’s “only so much you can do.”

Stevens added, “we just tried to be as solid as possible. We tried to switch a little bit less. I think we had a couple of guards out there that are bigger guards, and we just tried to rotate bodies on him. Jae Crowder picked up his fourth (personal foul), I think in the third (quarter), and the threat of not having him out there is scary. So, we were glad that he was able to finish.”

Boston’s Avery Bradley added, “I feel like guys like Jae Crowder and Al Horford, whoever switched on him, they did a great job.”

And the Cavs will look to get back on track after enduring their first loss of this postseason.

Despite the disappointment with his play and the loss in general, you can bet James will find positives to take from the defeat and use it to help him and Cleveland play better in Game 4.

“Well, I feel some adversity is all part of the postseason,” James said. “I feel like you have to have some type of adversity in order to be successful. If it was going to happen, let it happen now; let us regroup. Let us regroup and … let’s get back to playing desperate basketball, which they did tonight. So we’ve got to be a lot better, for sure.”

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”