Halftime stars, studs and duds: A better effort from Celtics

celtics_wizards_isaiah_thomas_050717.jpg

Halftime stars, studs and duds: A better effort from Celtics

WASHINGTON – The Boston Celtics put forth a much better showing than we saw in Game 3.
 
But it still wasn’t good enough for to go into the half leading as both teams are knotted at 48.
 
Washington’s John Wall launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark, but Marcin Gortat had a chance to tip it in.
 
But his shot rolled out of the rim as time expired.
 
Despite coming into the game having won two of the first three games, the Celtics have found themselves in an uphill battle in each game.
 
The average deficit the Celtics had in the first three games after the first quarter, was 16.3.
 
And for a moment there, it looked like it would be more of the same tonight.
 
The Wizards scored the game’s first eight points, but the Celtics didn’t allow the early hole they dug themselves to get much deeper.
 
Boston responded with a 12-2 run of their own which gave them a 12-10 lead and would eventually go ahead by as many as five points (20-15) in the first before the Wizards responded with five straight to tie the game at 20.
 
But the Celtics finished the quarter with the final four points – a 3-pointer by Marcus Smart and a free throw by Kelly Olynyk – to lead 24-20 after the first.
 
The Celtics would go ahead by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, with scoring coming from the perimeter as well as on cuts to the basket for lay-ups.
 
But the Wizards closed out the quarter with a 22-11 run to tie the score going into the fourth.
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 4 between Boston and Washington.
 

STARS
 
Isaiah Thomas

He vowed to be in more of an attack mode in Game 4 and Thomas did not disappoint. He led all scorers at the half with 17 points.
 
Otto Porter, Jr.

This would have been a Celtics blowout in the first half if not for Porter’s scoring. He had 12 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter that kept the Wizards within striking distance when he was on the floor.
 

STUDS
 
Al Horford

Like Thomas, he too was more aggressive in terms of his defense, rebounding and playmaking. At the half, Horford had nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
 
Bradley Beal

He has been at his best the last couple of games in the first half, and Game 4 was no exception. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting at the half.
 
Kelly Olynyk

Booed every time he touched the ball, Olynyk finally shook off the crowd with a dunk and a nifty dribble-spin move that led to another basket scored.  At the half he had eight points.
 

DUDS
 
Celtics Rebounding

It’s once again a problematic area for the Celtics who currently being out-rebounded 28-18. Back in the first, the Celtics were minus-4 (13-9) on the glass, but led by four points in part because the rebounding battle was relatively close.

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

Irving takes over in third quarter, Cavs beat Celtics in Game 4, 112-99

CLEVELAND – They had them right where they wanted them.

LeBron James was in foul trouble.

Kyrie Irving had not yet heated up, and the lead hovered above double figures but seemed oh-so-close to creeping upwards of 20 points if the Celtics did a better job of making open shots in the first half.

Those missed shots, combined with a Kyrie Irving takeover in the third quarter, would prove to be part of the narrative for Game 4 – missed opportunities - as the Cavs rallied for a 112-99 Game 4 win.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1, with a chance to eliminate the Celtics in Boston on Thursday and advance to the NBA Finals where a well-rested Golden State team will be awaiting them.

Irving led all scorers with a playoff career-high 42 points, 21 of which came in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Boston’s Avery Bradley had 19 points while Jae Crowder (18 points), Al Horford (16), and Kelly Olynyk (15) also finished with double figures scoring.

"He put the team on his back," said Tristan Thompson, regarding Irving's play. "He still has another gear."

Boston spent all of the fourth quarter playing from behind, failing to get that necessary made shot or defensive turnover or stop that they needed to slow down Cleveland’s growing momentum.

And with Irving making a slew of clutch baskets that put Cleveland in control, it was James’ turn to put the game away.

He did just that, finishing with 34 points which included 15 in the fourth quarter.

But for a good chunk of Tuesday’s Game 4 matchup, it looked as though the Celtics were coming back to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied up.

It was an odd game for sure, with nothing being any stranger than LeBron James being whistled for not one, not two, not three, but four personal fouls … in the first half.

The fourth came when he was whistled for an offensive foul against Terry Rozier with 6:46 to play and Boston ahead by 10 points.

With James on the bench, Cleveland managed to play Boston to a standstill as the half ended with the Celtics still leading by 10 points (57-47).

Cleveland slowly crept back in the game in the third, and eventually went ahead 73-72 following a pair of free throws by James with 3:15 to play in the quarter.

The Cavs were able to lead by as many as five points in the third quarter which ended with Cleveland ahead 87-80 as Irving scored the last 14 points for Cleveland which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that would be the final points scored in the quarter.

Cleveland’s strong finish to the third was a striking contrast to how the game began.

Boston got off to its best start in this series after a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder put the Celtics ahead 18-11.

The Celtics went ahead 22-13 after a pair of free throws by Jonas Jerebko and would eventually lead by as many as 16 points.

Meanwhile, James – the man Crowder was defending most of the time early on – had six points in the first quarter on 3-for-7 shooting.