Updated April 21, 2017
Posted April 21, 2017
The top 8 moments from Cleveland’s historic playoff comeback
CLEVELAND, Ohio — LeBron James and Co. know a little something about playoff comebacks.
Before they fell behind by as many as 26 points during Thursday’s 119-114 victory over Indiana in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs opening round, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers already had a track record of overcoming insurmountable playoff odds.
Remember Golden State’s 3-1 lead in the 2016 NBA Finals?
Maybe that’s why coach Tyronn Lue and his team never wavered, even when the deficit was still hovering around 20 points with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
That’s when the Cavaliers began to chip away and eventually take the lead with a little more than six minutes to play in the fourth.
Here’s a look back at the eight biggest moments from the Cavs’ historic rally. A comeback for the ages that James described as “a big win for us” in his postgame remarks.
By Joe Noga, cleveland.com
Photo: Michael Conroy/Associated Press
3-point shots by Love, LeBron get things started
With just less than nine minutes left in the third quarter, the Cavaliers trailed 77-56. That’s when James found Kevin Love with a cross-court pass that led to a Love corner trey. The shot appeared to loosen Cleveland up on offense and created some sense of flow. When LeBron added a corner triple of his own just a little more than a minute later, it trimmed the Pacers lead to 15 and forced coach Nate McMillan to call time out.
“You have to know LeBron is going to be more aggressive and look for the 3-ball,” McMillan said. “That’s what we talked about in the locker room. They did exactly that.”
Love’s hustle started the Cavs break
On the front end of that James 3-pointer was some excellent defense and hustle by Love, who helped made a behind-the-back, no-look save of a ball heading out of bounds in front of the Cleveland bench. The ball eventually wound up in LeBron’s hands for the shot at the other end, but it was Love’s willingness to sacrifice himself into the sideline that started the sequence.
A step-back triple from J.R. Smith
With a little more than two minutes left in the third, Channing Frye dribbled into the paint and kicked the ball to J.R. Smith on the wing in front of Indiana’s bench. Smith backpedaled behind the 3-point arc and nailed a fadeaway shot that pulled the Cavaliers within 10 points of the Pacers.
Then LeBron just decided to start taking 30-foot three-pointers
That left side high 3-pointer, you know the one about two feet behind the 28-foot marking on the court? LeBron has sort of fallen in love with it this season. And when he’s feeling it from that range, there’s no stopping him. James got hot late in the third quarter, sinking two from about that same spot in the final minute of the period. The second brought the Cavs within five points of the lead with a little more than 30 seconds left.
“It’s just putting work in and understanding I’m not the best shooter on that team when it comes to 3-pointers,” James said. “We’ve got J.R., Kyle, Champ, Kyrie. Those guys got 3-point shooting contest trophies in their house. For me, I just try to keep the defense off balance. Tonight I was able to do that. I was able to get to the paint get to the free throw line. Made a couple shots outside and it opened it up for all of us.”