During the first quarter of play in Game 3 on Friday, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a huge statement. The Cavs jumped out to a 19 point lead after the opening period and never looked back as they routed the Celtics 124-95 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
LeBron James scored 21 of his 38 points in the first quarter on 8 of 10 shooting. The Cavs shot 67 percent in the opening quarter and 59 percent for the game. James also added eight rebounds and seven assists and showed no ill effects from his elbow problem.
“I know I’m going to hear a lot about the elbow, but I’m here to play basketball and give our team a chance to win,” James said. “We knew how important it was to come out and play aggressively after giving away Game 2.”
The Celtics, hoping to build momentum with a win on Friday, got off to such a bad start and had no chance of recovering. They missed 10 of their first 13 shots and shot just 27 percent in the first quarter. Boston trailed 65-43 at halftime and went into the locker room being booed by their fans.
Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 8 assists for the Celtics in the loss, after getting 19 assists in their Game 2 win. Paul Pierce had an off-night and managed just 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting.
“That was embarrassing. That’s embarrassing when you lose at home like that,” said Pierce. “We just let our guard down. … You’ve got to know the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come in here with all the urgency in the world. They took the fight to us early, and we didn’t respond to it.”
Cleveland built their lead to 30 points in the third quarter and never led by less than 20 in the second half. Antawn Jamison added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs and Shaquille O’Neal had 12 points and 9 rebounds. But once again, the Celtics had no answer for James and head coach Doc Rivers has heard enough of his elbow injury.
“I think he’s healthy,” said Rivers. “His elbow looked very good tonight. So enough with the elbow injury. I think we can go ahead and focus on basketball.”
Game 4 is on Sunday and Boston must find a way to get a win at home and not put Cleveland just one win away from winning the series. The Cavaliers have their odds set at 5/7 by NBA sportsbooks to win the 2010 Eastern Conference and Boston has their odds set at 14/1.