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Underdog Cavs insist they have plenty of bite for Finals

Underdog Cavs insist they have plenty of bite for Finals

That was reality for the title holders Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, as Irving set a career play-off high with 42 points in their 112-99 win over the Boston Celtics.

The Cavaliers, who sat their starters for the entire fourth quarter, begin their third straight finals series against Golden State Warriors (they've each won one) next Thursday in Oakland - James' seventh straight trip to the finals as he seeks his fourth title.

Tip-ins Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason.

Kyrie Irving (24) and Kevin Love (15) also combined for 39 points, in a game the Cavaliers never looked like losing.

Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 23 points. After the Game 4 loss and playoffs elimination, Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said: "You can swing, swing, swing, and maybe you'll hit somebody, but it isn't fair".

Lue said he's not thinking about the Warriors, saying of the Celtics offence, "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's [offence] for me", pointing to the amount of screening, cutting, and passing in Boston's offence.

The circumstances were different and the primary architect of the comeback was Irving instead of James, but Cleveland fighting back from 16 points down was in some ways reminiscent of the 26-point half-time deficit they erased in Game Three of their first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.

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There's notably also another superstar on Golden State's already-loaded roster. Learning that at a young age - all the older guys tell me that's really going to help me. "It's been challenging for us to kind of - plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we'll be better in Game 5".

Adding injury to insult, the Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas re-aggravated a lingering hip injury in the third quarter of the Game 2 massacre that would keep him out for the remainder of the postseason.

"I'm going to be honest, I'm not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State", James said.

Cavs fall short against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. He capped his blistering 19-point outburst with a 3 in the final second of the quarter and celebrated at mid-court by pretending to put two pistols back in his holster. The 2015 NBA champions won a record 73 regular-season games, and Stephen Curry was the first player to unanimously win the NBA MVP Award. The suspension always raised a "what if" scenario for Warriors fans worldwide, but this series could be the chance for them to find out.

Irving's final 3 of the quarter was just mean.

"It was one of those games we had to fight through and we had to earn it", he said.

"Isaiah just encouraged us to play hard and play together", Al Horford said after the Celtics were eliminated from the National Basketball Association postseason with a 135-102 Game 5 loss to the Cavaliers.


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