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Kyrie Irving (42 points) saves Cavaliers, Celtics can’t hold 16-point lead

05.23.17 at 10:54 pm ET
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May 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

May 23, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket in the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in game four of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving saved LeBron James, Ty Lue and the city of Cleveland from a total state of panic Tuesday night. 

With James saddled with four first-half fouls for the first time in his career and the Cavaliers staring a second straight shocking home loss to the Celtics in the face, Irving took over with 21 of his playoff career-high 42 points in an amazing third-quarter display to lead the Cavaliers to a 112-99 win in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena. 

The Celtics, who led by as many as 16 in the first half before a shell-shocked crowd, will try to stave off elimination Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern finals at TD Garden. 

“That stings when you can’t pull those out,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We put together a lot of good basketball here. We didn’t put enough of it together tonight to win the game.”

James, who was scoreless in the fourth quarter Sunday in Game 3, had 15 of his 34 points in the final period.

The Cavs came out and turned again to Kevin Love, who hit the game’s first basket, a three. Cleveland scored the game’s first five points. 

Then the Celtics took over, scoring 11 straight points and to take all the energy out of QuickenLoans Arena. 

LeBron James continued his disengaged play of Sunday night, settling for threes and missing them. Love did find James with his trademark length-of-the-court pass and James delivered with a one-handed jam to cut Boston’s lead to 18-13. 

The only bit of troubling news in the first quarter for the Celtics were the two fouls apiece called on Jae Crowder and Al Horford. Crowder stayed in the game to guard LeBron. 

The Celtics led 29-19 after one quarter.  

(For a complete box score, click here.)

The Cavaliers showed a little spark with a transition-inspired rally. James started to get to the basket for layups. 

Momentum continued to roll in the Celtics’ favor in the second quarter, as they built their lead up to 49-33 on threes from Terry Rozier and Avery Bradley. At that precise moment, the Celtics had outscored the Cavs, 105-64, since trailing 77-56 midway through the third quarter of Game 3. 

But without question, the biggest storyline was the foul trouble of LeBron James. After getting called for a highly questionable third personal foul on a touch foul of Marcus Smart shooting a three with 8:55 left in the second quarter. But Ty Lue decided to keep him in the game. 

That move backfired when James bowled over Rozier in the lane for his fourth foul with 6:46 left in the second quarter and the Celtics up, 43-33. James, with four first-half fouls for the first time in his career, sat for the remainder of the half. Down 49-33, it was Irving to the rescue, who scored the next 10 points in a 10-2 Cleveland run. 

The Cavs had the lead down to six before the Celtics finished the half on a 6-2 spurt for a 57-47 advantage. Without Isaiah Thomas for a second straight game, ball movement for the Celtics was outstanding. In the first half, the Celtics had 17 assists on 21 field goals.

“I thought we played as well as maybe we have the entire playoffs during the first half,” Stevens said.

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Read More: 2017 Eastern Conference finals, 2017 NBA Playoffs, Al Horford, Avery Bradley

Jonas Jerebko, LeBron James exchange shoves in first half of Game 4

05.23.17 at 9:49 pm ET
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It was after Game 1 that Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked if Jonas Jerebko had a role in the club’s third-round series against the Cavaliers. It’s apparently been found, too, as 6-foot-10 Swede has seemingly become the club’s enforcer. 

One game after Jerebko told Kevin Love to stop flopping in Game 3, Jerebko seemingly came to the defense of Celtics guard Terry Rozier tonight when the second-year pro was muscled down to the court by Cavaliers star LeBron James in the second quarter, and delivered a shove of sorts to the all-world James. 

After a brief verbal exchange following the shove from Jerebko, James returned the favor with a dunk and a shove to Jerebko. 

It would be one of James’ only plays in the second quarter, as he sat for most of the quarter, with four fouls to his name. 

Cleveland police increasing its presence at Celtics-Cavaliers after Manchester attack

05.23.17 at 6:19 pm ET
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There will be additional security at the Cavaliers-Celtics game Tuesday. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

There will be additional security at the Cavaliers-Celtics game Tuesday. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

Cleveland police will increase its presence at Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday in the wake of the Manchester terrorist attack, according to TMZ Sports

Earlier Tuesday, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the league is already beginning to prepare for the Finals, which begin June 1. With the Cavaliers holding a 2-1 lead over the Celtics, the series is guaranteed to return to Boston for Game 5 Thursday night. The Boston Police announced it will add security to concert venues in the city as well. Bags, backpacks and purses larger than a wristlet won’t be allowed inside the T.D. Garden. 

The U.K. raised its terrorism threat to the highest level Tuesday for the third time in history, signaling the country is still on watch after an attack at an Ariana Grande concert Monday killed 22 people and left 59 injured. Officials are still looking into whether the perpetrator, Salman Abedi, was part of a larger terror cell.

Read More: 2017 Eastern Conference finals, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers,

Amir Johnson is a gametime decision for Game 4

05.23.17 at 12:13 pm ET
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Amir Johnson will be a gametime decision for Game 4. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Amir Johnson will be a gametime decision for Game 4. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Celtics big man Amir Johnson was injured after a tie-up with Tristan Thompson on a rebound attempt that bothered his right shoulder in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.

He remains a question mark for Tuesday’s Game 4.

According to the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn, Johnson will have a MRI on his right shoulder and has a sprained AC joint. On Tuesday morning, Stevens told reporters Johnson will see how he feels after shootaround and then make a decision from there.

In the Cleveland series thus far, Johnson’s productivity hasn’t shown up in the stat sheets.

In Game 1, he played just four minutes and brought down one rebound. Johnson was taken out of the starting lineup for Game 2 and had two points, three rebounds and two steals in 11 minutes. He was put back into the lineup for Game 3 where he played nine minutes and had two points and two rebounds.

However, his physicality cannot be tallied in the box score.

The 6-foot-9-inch 240-pound Johnson has 11 years experience in the NBA and is one of the few Celtics players who can go up against opponents’ big men as the last line of defense.

Despite the loss of Isaiah Thomas after Game 2 and limited time with Johnson, the Celtics were able to pull out a 111-108 win on Avery Bradley’s game-winning three pointer with 1/10 of a second left on the clock. Marcus Smart, who got the start in place of Thomas had 27 points, seven assists and five rebounds followed by Bradley who ended with 20 points and four assists. 

Jonas Jerebko checked in for Al Horford in the third quarter and went 4-for-4 from the field, including 2-of-2 from three-point range in 12 minutes. Jerebko could fill the starting spot for Johnson if he doesn’t return. In the postseason, Jerebko has averaged 9.9 minutes and 3.1 points per game. 

Whether or not Johnson returns Tuesday, LeBron James is bound to have his way after his subpar performance of 11 points, six rebounds and six assists in Game 3. However, without the inside presence of Johnson, it might be more easy for James to get the rim. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who scored 29 and 28 points respectively in Game 3, on the perimeter it puts the Celtics in constant scramble situations on the effective trio. 

Read More: Amir Johnson,

Celtics conduct FaceTime call with injured star Isaiah Thomas after miraculous comeback against Cavaliers

05.22.17 at 6:08 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

CLEVELAND — Isaiah Thomas may be gone, but he’s not forgotten.

In the moments after the Celtics completed a remarkable comeback victory over the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night, forward Kelly Olynyk decided to get Thomas on a FaceTime connection to celebrate.

Thomas is out for the playoffs with a hip injury and did not accompany the team to Cleveland, but he was with them in spirit, and then with them via video connection in the victorious locker room, as his teammates relayed after Monday’s practice.

“He was just happy. He was happy. He was excited,” said Avery Bradley, whose buzzer-beating 3-pointer gave the C’s the 111-108 win. “He sent everybody a text, and then Kelly just called him, or he might have been calling Kelly right after the game, so it was nice to see a smile on his face. I just wish he was here.”

The heart and soul of the Celtics, Thomas endured the death of his sister, the loss of a tooth followed by extensive dental surgery, and then finally the hip condition that had bothered him since March before shutting it down.

The Celtics found a way without him.

“It’s very different,” Thomas said. “But all we can do is play hard for him. Like I said, he was excited with the way that we played. We’re a family, and other guys got opportunities to step up for us, and Marcus [Smart] had a big game for us and it could be somebody else next game.”

Smart was happy to play his part, and even happier to share it with Thomas, even if only on a screen.

“He’s ecstatic,” Smart said. “I told him I channeled my inner IT, and he kind of laughed a little bit. It felt good. It felt good to see him smile. He’s been down with everything he’s been going through, and then for him not to be here, I know that hurts him even more. So to see him happy and smiling, it was a good feeling for us.”

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Eastern Conference finals, Game 3 comeback

Report: Celtics’ Guerschon Yabusele out for summer league following foot surgery

05.22.17 at 4:00 pm ET
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Forward Guerschon Yabusele, who the Celtics selected No. 16 overall in the 2016 draft, will not play summer league ball this offseason following foot surgery to remove bone spurs from the top of both his feet, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

Following last year’s draft, the 6-foot-8, 265-pound power forward spent his first professional season stashed away in China, playing for the Shanghai Dongfang. While abroad he averaged an impressive 20.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

The frenchman went on to finish his season back in the States, with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. In five games coming off the bench, he averaged 12.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and two assists, while shooting 49 percent from the field. 

As it stands, he should be fully recovered before the end of the summer and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. 

Read More: Guerschon Yabusele,

Jonas Jerebko calls out Kevin Love for flopping in Game 3

05.22.17 at 12:28 pm ET
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Trailing 2-0 in the best-of-seven series following an embarrassing loss in Game 2, the Celtics needed something from someone. Guts, toughness, moxie — anything.

While they got a clutch shot from Avery Bradley to seal a comeback for the ages, they also received a different spark from the least expected source.

Jonas Jerebko.

Jerebko drilled a huge bucket to give the Celtics the lead with 30 seconds left, but he also got into it with both Kevin Love and Deron Williams during the game.

Late in the third quarter, he and Love tangled in the post with Love falling to the ground. He told him to “stand up, don’t flop.”

Jerebko echoed his in-game sentiments about Love to reporters after the game.

“I thought he flopped,” he said. “I don’t like people flopping. I don’t flop. So I just had to tell him. He kind of laughed. He knew he flopped. He knew he did it. He’s a great player, you know, but, stand up, don’t flop. That’s my motto at least.”

Jerebko also set some hard screens on Williams during the game and appeared to bring a bit of toughness to the Celtics who looked outmatched, and at times shell-shocked in Games 1 and 2.

“We needed something to get going, so it felt good,” he told TNT’s “Inside The NBA crew in a postgame interview with Charles Barkley.

He later added: “I think we gave them a little bit too much respect in those first two games. We’re out there to compete and I don’t think we competed that hard those two first games. I just wanted to come out there and play aggressive, and play with some attitude, and obviously it felt good to knock down some shots, too.”

Read More: Jonas Jerebko, Kevin Love,
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