Final Dime: Cavaliers 124, Celtics 95
Antawn Jamison doubled-up with 20 points and 12 boards in Friday's win.
Nathaniel S. Butler
Both were answered before the end of the first quarter.
In that opening period, the Cavaliers quieted the crowd immediately, opening up a 21-point lead behind LeBron’s 21-point quarter. Boston never got closer than 16 points for the rest of the evening, with the Wine and Gold avenging Monday’s loss in style – demolishing the Celtics, 124-95, on Friday at the Garden.
After a passive first half in the Game 2 blowout, LeBron came out in attack mode on Friday – canning eight of his first ten shots to put the Celtics in an early bind. LeBron had 28 at half and 35 after three quarters before joining his fellow starters on the bench with just over five minutes to play.
“We understand that this is a series, we understand that we can play better than we did in Game 2, so we came out here tonight, and we strung it together for 48 minutes,” said Coach Mike Brown.
The two-time MVP finished with 38 points, going 14-for-22 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, adding eight boards, seven assists and a pair of blocked shots.
“It was my mindset to come out really aggressive and just dictate tempo from the start of the jump and I was able to do that,” said James. “I think rest helped me. Rest helped all of us and we were able to put a complete game for the first time in these playoffs.”
James was 8-of-9 from the stripe and the Cavaliers, as a team, went 31-of-34 from the free throw line.
As a team, the Wine and Gold shot a franchise record 59.5 percent en route their record-setting 124-point effort. They dominated Boston on the glass, 45-30, in points in the paint, 50-32 and from beyond the arc – shooting 42 percent to Boston’s 24.
All those numbers add up to the Cavaliers running out to a 35-point lead in the fourth quarter. Boston didn’t lead all night.
LeBron got plenty of help on Friday night, with all five starters plus Delonte West notching double-figures.
Antawn Jamison stayed strong – doubling up with 20 points and 12 boards, going 7-for-15 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the line. Mo Williams and Shaquille O’Neal notched a dozen points apiece – with Williams adding seven assists and O’Neal, nine boards.
“As a team, we knew the sense of urgency, we knew we had to play better,” said Jamison.
Anthony Parker rounded out the starters in double-figures with 11 points – going a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and keeping Rajon Rondo (18 points, eight assists) in check.
Delonte West had his best game of the series, going 5-for-7 from the floor for 14 points in 20 action-packed minutes off the bench.
Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, but was obviously never a factor on Friday.
Both clubs will practice on Saturday before reconvening for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon at the Garden.
2. The Cavaliers won a playoff game for just the second time ever in Boston and are now just 2-11 all-time in the Garden. Cleveland’s previous win in Beantown was Game 4 of the 1991-92 Eastern Conference semifinals.
3. Cleveland set franchise playoff marks in field goal percentage and points in Friday night’s blowout. Their .595 field goal shooting tops a .590 mark set in Game 7 against Boston in 1992 in a 122-104 blowout. The 124 points tops that game and a 122-95 drubbing of the Sixers in 1990.
4. The Cavaliers have made almost twice as many three-pointers (65) as their opponents (33) this postseason.
5. There’s something about Game 3’s of a series for Antawn Jamison, who has now posted a double-double in four of his last five Game 3s. For his career, Jamison came in averaging 21.1 ppg and 8.4 rpg in Game 3s, and finished with 20 and 12 on Friday.
6. Delonte West has been solid throughout the first three games of the Eastern Conference Semis. Aside from his stellar defense against Ray Allen – who went 2-for-9 on Friday – West is shooting 10-for-17 (.588) from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 from the stripe.
7. By missing his only three-point attempt on Friday, Jamario Moon fell percentage points behind Michael Pietrus for the top percentage in the postseason. Moon is shooting 8-for-15 (.533) from beyond the arc.
8. LeBron might have gotten some extra juice from good friends Jay-Z and Beyonce – seated courtside at the Garden.
9. The Cavaliers have had three road games this postseason and have donned three different uniforms in each. On Friday night, the Wine and Gold went with the deep wine and deep gold – the CavFanatic uni’s they wore against the Lakers at home. After the drubbing, look for them to stick with those threads on Sunday.
10. Friday was a huge sports day in Boston. Aside from the Cavaliers-Celtics semifinal series, the Bruins were in Philadelphia trying to close out the Flyers in the NHL Eastern Conference semis. And across town at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were taking on the hated Yankees.
All three teams lost.