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Irving scores 42, Cavs come back to win Game 4 and get 3-1 series lead

Kyrie Irving

With LeBron James straddled by four first-half fouls, Kyrie Irving gladly took the reins in the third quarter and blew everyone’s minds away.

Irving finished with a playoff career-high 42 points, including an explosive 21 in the third quarter, where Cleveland erased a 10-point first-half deficit and turned back Boston 112-99 to get a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Finals series.

The Cavs were trailing 47-57 after the break but slowly ate at the lead behind the blazing hands of Irving, who shot 9-of-10 from the field in the frame, including a 30-foot, buzzer-beating three to end the quarter. Cleveland outscored Boston 40-27 in the third and entered the payoff period ahead 87-80.

James, who scored only 11 points in their stunning Game 3 loss to Boston, struggled with foul trouble in the first half but took over in the fourth canto, where he scored 15 of his total 34 points to help Cleveland keep the lead against the threatening Celtics.

The defending champions can clinch the series in Game 5 at TD Garden. If the Cavs win in Boston, they will set a third straight Finals meeting against Western Conference champion Golden State, which swept San Antonio. The potential third meeting will serve as a decider as the pair has split the last two Finals.

Irving entered the series just shooting 28% from the arc in the playoffs, but he has started to heat up in the last two games and finally found his excellent range in Game 4, where he shot 15-of-22 from the field and 4-7 from deep.

James made just 1-of-6 attempts from three but added five boards and six assists, while Kevin Love put up a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds. No other Cleveland player scored more than seven points.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 19 points but missed six of his seven treys. Jae Crowder shot 4-of-7 from deep and scored 18 points, while Al Horford added 16 and Kelly Olynyk finished with 15.

TALE OF TWO HALVES

Boston established their lead behind precision passing and decent outside shooting in the first half, where the team only committed three turnovers and made six of their 17 treys. But they lost steam after the break, turning the ball over nine times and shooting only four of their 14 field goals from deep.

Cleveland only had 36 attempts against the Celtics’ defense in the first half and made 17 of them for a healthy 47% clip, but they rattled home 27 of their 38 shots in the second half to end up with a sky-touching 59.5% shooting rate.

BANGED UP

Irving might have notched a career high in points but he did not achieve the feat smoothly, as he tweaked his left ankle during his third-quarter explosion but he stayed and played to the end.
Love, too, walked gingerly in the last quarter, but he gritted through it and finished the game.