As a Boston fan, I have gotten so much joy out of the first two games of this series, but I’m certainly not ready to write off LeBron or the Cavs. Cleveland has the opportunity to get right back into the series if they can protect their home court. The Celtics have to take one of these next two games if they want to put away the Cavs. So with the stakes set so high, what am I afraid of in Game 3?
1. Cleveland Gets Hot From Deep
Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver are all capable of going nuclear in any given game. The Cavs shot over 40 percent from deep against the Raptors, but are currently at a measly 24 percent against the Celtics. Some of that can be explained by Brad Stevens’ defense, and Celtics players like Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris, who pride themselves on their defense. But still, Cleveland has been ice cold from three, and you have think at some point some guys like Korver, Smith, and Love are going to get shots to fall.
I think the refs have let the players play through two games. Even deliberately shoving a player from behind in mid-air was met with minimal punishment. But I’m worried that we’re going to get a crew in this game that wants to call a foul on every play. As deep as this Celtics roster is, we cannot have guys like Horford, Morris or Jaylen get into foul trouble because they are so critical on defense. If LeBron starts getting every ticky-tack foul he whines for, the Celtics could find themselves in a tough position.
3. LeBron Plays Defense
No, I’m not afraid of LeBron exerting effort once or twice over the course of a game to make an emphatic block or flashy play. I’m talking real defense. If LeBron starts actively rotating to his assignment, and getting back on defense after a miss instead of crying to officials, the Cavaliers may actually have a chance in this one.
Although I am nervous for this game tonight, I think the Celtics will come out on top. Jaylen Brown told reporters that he “doesn’t like to play with his food before he eats it.” Tonight, the Celtics are about to be one bite closer to the NBA Finals.