Dribbles: Cavs? Celtics? Let’s Talk About Game 3

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ matchup with the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday.Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers, Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics, NBA

1. The Celtics won Game 1 by 25 points. The Cavs won Game 2 by 24. So, who’s the favorite in Game 3?

2. I have no idea.

3. It is that type of perspective and insight that you simply cannot find anywhere else.

4. I want to believe that the Cavs have turned a corner. Game 2 was their best playoff performance in six years, when they went into Boston and won Game 7 to reach the Finals.

5. But the only person from that Cavs team who’s on the team today is Tristan Thompson. And he actually played for the Celtics (and a few others) since.

6. So, different situation entirely. These Cavs looked like they would get swept after Game 1. Yours Truly even sort of predicted it.

7. But as I often read on social media when checking my notifications: “What does Amico know??”

8. Clearly, the answer is nothing. I believed the Cavs would just keep clunking along, never really living up to what they could be, and then get bounced a short time later. Let the offseason rumors begin.

9. They had other ideas. For the entire first half, they played their best 24 minutes of the playoffs. The defense was intense, determined. The offense was crisp. And they just kept going in the second half. I’ve said it before and will again — the story of Game 2 was more Donovan Mitchell and plenty of everyone else (especially Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert).

10. I’ve believed all along that if Mitchell could get one guy to help him consistently, the Cavs would win a couple of games in this series. But what if he gets two or three? Well, we saw the answer in Game 2.

11. Either way, Game 3 is a biggie. The Cavs can set the tone in this series with a win. They would have the Celtics thinking that this is going to be a long series — and who knows how they would react then?

12. I also have said that if the Cavs can bring their A-games, and be as sharp as ever, and the Celtics slip up … well, anything is possible. The question is, can the Cavs bring their A-games two out of three nights?

13. I have no idea.

14. I do know it’s been a while since they’ve managed to play really, really well in back-to-back games. Probably before the All-Star break. But hey, I didn’t expect them to do anything but get blown out in Game 2.

15. Now, Boston is going to try to stamp out the Cavaliers quickly in front of the home fans. Jayson Tatum hasn’t gone off yet in this series — and he is due. The Celtics finished 64-18 in the regular season because they know what the heck they’re doing. They’re loaded, even without the injured Kristaps Porzingis.

16. But the Cavs aren’t too shabby, either. And they seem to play pretty well when their backs are up against it. As coach J.B. Bickerstaff said earlier in the week, a lot of people have left them for dead on multiple occasions. 

17. Yet here they are, surviving, with the series tied at 1-all and the next two in Cleveland.

18. Can the Cavaliers do it? Can they put it all together twice (or even three times) in a row? Can they frustrate the Celtics, get under their skin, and get closer to something special?

19. All we can do is wait and see. But I’ll say this much — that Amico cat sure didn’t think we’d be asking those questions today. Finally, something I do know.

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