LeBron blows Boston away
THE NBA Eastern Conference Finals are tied up, but we're still waiting for a closely-fought contest.
Cleveland continued the domination of the home team in this series with a 111-102 win which saw them jump out to a 19-point lead in the first quarter and never really look back.
LeBron James was dominant offensively, scoring 44 points on 17/28 shooting, and had enough support from Kyle Korver (14 points), George Hill (13 points) and Tristan Thompson (13 points, 12 rebounds) to square a series the reigning Eastern Conference champs had trailed 2-0.
It was James' sixth 40-point game of this postseason, the most since Allen Iverson had six in 2001.
"It's something people shouldn't take for granted," Celtics veteran Al Horford said of James. "He's doing great things."
Not one of Boston's starting five shot at better than 50 per cent from the field as Jaylen Brown (10/23), Terry Rozier (6/15), Jayson Tatum (5/13) and Al Horford (5/13) missed shots they regularly make, including several dunks.
Cleveland had 68 points in the first half, the most the Celtics have conceded all season.
Boston made a push early in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to single figures but was helpless against LeBron James at the other end.
The Celtics kept switching when Terry Rozier's man set a pick for James, leaving the undersized point guard to attempt to defend the Cavs superstar.
It didn't go so well for Boston as James repeatedly forced his way to the rim with ease to push the lead back to 89-76 with a quarter to play.
"He's going to go after whoever he wants to go after," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Marcus Morris (five) and Brown (four) both battled foul trouble, as did Kevin Love (five) for Cleveland.
Cleveland is trying to become the 20th team - out of 300 - to overcome a 2-0 deficit and James, who has already orchestrated two such rallies and is seeking his eighth straight finals, is a step closer to a third.
But to do it again the Cavs will have to win in Boston, where the Celtics are 9-0 this postseason.
"It's a hostile environment," James said. "We understand that, we know that there's no love in there. If you ain't got on green, if you don't play for that team, if you don't bleed green, they got no love for you. So we've got to come out with a bunker mentality and understand it's just us it's going to be a great atmosphere."
Game 5 is Thursday (AEST) at TD Centre, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked what message he would give his team.
"It's the best two out of three to go to the NBA Finals. Doesn't get better than that," he said.
"Ultimately, anybody that didn't think this was going to be tough, I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it's a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again."