By MyFM's Jake Archer - For most of the first half last night, I was quietly talking myself into the Celtics beating the Cavaliers and maybe having a shot in the series. I was way too scared to say anything out loud because I knew the Cavaliers weren’t going to make it easy, but the Celtics looked great.
After stealing Game 3 in Cleveland, many Celtics fans were satisfied with how this series had gone already. Without Isaiah Thomas, all you could really ask for was one win and some competitive basketball. But secretly, there was some silent hope that the C’s could take another game and push Cleveland. It looked like it might happen.
In the first quarter, the Celtics looked fantastic and they outscored Cleveland 29-19. The second quarter was evenly matched, but Boston still took a 10-point lead into the break. LeBron James had gotten into early foul trouble by picking up four in the first half, the Celtics were moving the ball well and Boston just looked like they wanted it more. They were getting everyone involved and even someone like Jonas Jerebko was making plays. All they needed to do was hang on and endure the inevitable run from Cleveland.
The second half was a totally different game. The C’s couldn’t get LeBron to commit another foul, the momentum shifted and they just couldn’t play defense. The man who took the most advantage of the lackadaisical defense from Boston was Cavaliers All Star point guard Kyrie Irving. With LeBron James looking lost again, Kyrie took over and saved his team from another embarrassing loss.
Irving scored 42 points in total and absolutely took over the third quarter. Even after he went down to the floor with an ankle injury, Kyrie was on another level. No matter who the Celtics had guarding him, he was going to score.
In the second half, it seemed like the Celtics just were out of gas. They looked slow and tired and couldn’t create any rhythm on offense like they had in the first half. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Tyler Zeller really hurt the team by chucking up bad shots or just playing out of control. Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk were the most consistent players for Boston, but they couldn’t carry the load on their own. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were finally woken up and playing with confidence.
Kevin Love quietly had another awesome game for the Cavs as he dropped 17 points while grabbing 17 rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks. LeBron, despite not really playing well, still managed to score 34 points. The “Big 3” for Cleveland carried them but the Cavaliers shot a ridiculously good percentage as a team. In the first half they were shooting 47% and in the second jumped that up to 71%. That isn’t going to be easy to beat under any circumstances, let alone without your best scorer in Isaiah Thomas.
So now, after a pretty gutty performance from the Celtics in a losing effort, the teams will head back to Boston for Game 5 on Thursday night. I could talk about a million ways this series could or should be different but none of that matters. All that matters is the Celtics not giving an inch tomorrow night and fighting to keep their season alive. Tip off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.