Eastern Conference playoffs second-round update: Cavs, Celtics one game away from conference finals

Tristan Winkelman

Sports Blogger

@tristanwink

 

 

Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Keith Allison/Flickr

What a difference one week makes, as the Cavaliers are one victory away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs were one loss away from getting bounced in the first round and now find themselves sitting comfortably with a 3-0 series lead. Cleveland won Game 1 in overtime 113-112 behind a triple double from LeBron James. With the triple double, James became second only to Magic Johnson in career playoff triple doubles. J.R. Smith added a crucial 20 points, and Kyle Korver scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime. LeBron received the help he desperately needed out of his teammates as they were spectacular down the stretch. Cleveland never led until overtime. The Cavs are the second team in the past 20 postseasons to win a game in which they never held a lead in regulation. Talk about demoralizing for a Toronto team that has tended to struggle against the Cavs.

Game 2 provided more greatness from James as the Cavs beat the Raptors 128-110. LeBron scored 43 points and had 14 assists for the first 40-point, 14-assist game in NBA playoff history. Kevin Love played like the all-star teammate Cavs fans have grown accustomed to seeing. Love finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. With the visiting team winning the first two games of the series, many fans are starting to call this the city of “LeBronto.”The Raptors are desperately in need of a road win, now.

Another game, another LeBron performance for the ages as the Cavs won 105-103 to gain a commanding 3-0 series lead. LeBron banked in a running one-hander at the buzzer to cap off a 38-point night. Toronto is now on the verge of quite possibly its most devastating playoff exit yet. After OG Anunoby tied the game for Toronto with eight seconds left, LeBron went the length of the floor to win the game. Game 4 is Monday night, and if it’s anything like the first three games, LeBron is probably going to put on another performance for the ages. Tune in. We’re witnessing greatness.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Boston holds a commanding 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia. In Game 1, the Celtics handled the Sixers 117-101. Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford combined for 83 points, as the Celtics played great team basketball. Rozier led the Celtics with 29 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Tatum scored a career-high 28 points, and Horford netted 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds. The injury-ridden Celtics did an excellent job of limiting the Sixers from downtown. Philly shot only 19 percent on 5-of-26 shooting from 3-point range. The 76ers are going to want to shoot better from downtown to come back in this series.

In Game 2, Boston rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat Philly 108-103. Jaylen Brown scored 13 points after missing Game 1 with a hamstring injury. Boston did an excellent job spreading out the scoring as six players finished in double figures. Tatum led the way with 21 points, and Horford put up a double double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Ben Simmons was held to only one point for the Sixers. Philly is going to want a greater output from the potential rookie of the year if it wants to get back in this series.

Game 3 might have been one of the most entertaining games of the series, as Boston pulled away in overtime 101-98 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The end of regulation was about as wild as it could be. J.J. Redick threw the ball away to Rozier, who tossed it to Jaylen Brown to give the Celtics an 89-87 lead late in regulation. Seconds later, Marco Bellineli hit a shot at the buzzer in the corner just inside the 3-point line to send the game into overtime. Horford scored a big go-ahead basket for Boston late in overtime to give the Celtics the victory. Tatum scored 24 points for the Celtics, and Joel Embiid led Philly with 22 points and 19 rebounds. The Celtics look for the sweep Monday to advance to the Conference Finals for the second straight season.

ozone@ocolly.com

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