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NBA Game Previews for May 19, 2018
May 19, 2018 at 8:30 PM ET

Celtics Host Cavaliers in Game 3 With Dominant 2-0 Series Lead

By Joel Bartilotta

The Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday. The Celtics (2-0) looked evenly matched with the Sixers in the conference semi-finals, but they've looked dominant in this series. In fact, Boston took down their first two games of this series by a combined 38 points, as Cleveland looked overwhelmed. What's scary about the Celtics is just how much energy they play with, as this young group of players has joined forces to form one of the most dangerous defenses in the NBA. The youth is frightening for opponents too, as this team has been unbelievably resilient in the absence of their two best players. Both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are out of the picture this season due to differing injuries, but they should come back next season to make this the best team in the east. A future that bright is hard to fathom and it's amazing that the Celtics find themselves just two wins away from making the Finals in this injury-riddled season. The 88.5 points per game that Boston is allowing in this series shows their true strength and they'll be hard to beat if they continue that gritty form. The Cavaliers (0-2) look like a discouraged club out there, as LeBron James and Kevin Love are the only players on this roster performing in this series. In fact, James is averaging 33.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game in these playoffs while Love is averaging 22.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game in his last five outings. No other player on the roster is even close to double figures in scoring or rebounding in these playoffs and it's a wonder if they have enough to compete with this deep Boston roster. The trade acquisitions have been especially discouraging, with Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and George Hill all playing scarcely in this postseason. To further prove just how small of a role these four players are playing, consider the fact that James averages in scoring, rebounding and assists destroy the combined averages of those four acquisitions. To say they need more from their role players is an understatement, with players like J.R. Smith and Jeff Green also struggling. If James and Love don't get any help from those six guys, this series could be over in no time and King James may be on his way to greener pastures.

Posted on May 19, 2018 at 1:42 AM ET      Updated on May 19, 2018 at 1:47 AM ET