The Celtics were dead and buried heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavs Sunday night. They were torched and destroyed in the first two games, and now they were without their scoring and emotional leader in Isaiah Thomas, who will miss the remainder of the postseason with a hip injury.
While most teams would have waived the white flag – Houston Rockets-style – the Celtics instead played their best game since last Monday’s emotional Game 7 win over the Wizards. Avery Bradley proved to be the hero, scoring 20 points and hitting a game-winning 3-pointer that bounced on the rim and finally dropped. Bradley’s bucket gave the C’s a 111-108 victory and ensured that there will be at least one more Celtics game at TD Garden this season. The Cavs still lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 Tuesday in Cleveland (8:30 p.m., TNT).
Marcus Smart, who got the start with Thomas out, had his best game as a member of the Celtics as he pumped in 27 points while hitting 7-of10 3-pointers. Jae Crowder had 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kelly Olynyk had 15 points off the bench for Boston.
The Celtics finally were able to limit LeBron James on the defensive end as James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Kyrie Irving had 29 points and Kevin Love recorded 28 points for Cleveland in the loss.
The Celtics outscored the Cavs, 61-42, in the second half.