The Cavaliers returned home after a disappointing loss in Charlotte on Wednesday and welcomed the Boston Celtics to town Friday night.
It went down to the wire and the Cavs experienced a scare when Kevin Love exited the game in the third quarter with a left thigh bruise. It did not end well, as Avery Bradley hit a buzzer-beater to end it 104-103 in favor of Boston.
After the game, Love said he did not feel it was serious.
Cleveland got out to a hot start, going on a 14-2 run to start the game.
Part of that run included a monster dunk from Love, one of the most ferocious jams he has made in his two seasons in Cleveland.
The Cavs kept rolling the rest of the first quarter and led 32-20 at the end of the opening period.
Boston would slow down the Cavs’ potent offense in the second quarter, cutting it to a six-point deficit with 2:34 to play in the half.
The Celtics outscored the Cavs 23-17 in the second quarter, trailing Cleveland 49-43 at halftime.
J.R. Smith and Kyrie Irving led the way in first-half scoring, each putting up 11 points.
Boston came out hot to start the second half, extending their run from the end of the second quarter to 16-4, and made it a two-point game with 11:05 to play in the third quarter.
Cleveland was outscored 63-32 in the third quarter in the previous two games and Head Coach Tyronn Lue did not want to let his team slip again to start the second half, so he called a timeout in the first minute of the half.
The timeout did not seem to remedy the third quarter woes, as the Celtics came out and Bradley knocked down a three-pointer to give Boston its first lead of the game.
Boston would score the first seven points of the second half.
The Cavs would bounce back and reclaim the lead, but Cavs fans held their breath with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, when Love bumped into Marcus Smart, and was slow to get up. Love was helped to the bench and a minute later he limped to the locker room.
Here’s the play:
It was later announced Love suffered a left thigh bruise and he would not return.
The Cavs would enter the fourth quarter leading 73-65.
Boston opened up the final period on a 12-3 run in the first two minutes, taking the lead on a three-pointer from Isaiah Thomas.
It was a back and forth contest for the next six minutes before Boston jumped out to a 90-83 lead with 4:01 to go.
Boston stayed in front, leading by seven with 3:12 to go before the Cavs went on a 6-0 run, as Smith knocked down a three to bring the Cavs within one.
LeBron James hit two free throws to put the Cavs up 93-92 with 2:17 to play. He would split a pair on the next possession to put Cleveland up by two.
Thomas came right back and tied it at 94 with two free throws of his own with 1:41 to go.
LeBron came right back and drove to the hoop, converting a layup and drawing contact to make it a three-point play, as he would hit the free throw to put Cleveland back up 97-94 with 90 seconds remaining.
LeBron drove again and attempted a layup, but missed, and Tristan Thompson was right there for the put back to make it 99-94.
Tyler Zeller came through with a put back to make it 99-96, and LeBron missed a three-pointer on the other end, but Smith grabbed an offensive rebound. Smith would get it to Irving, who knocked down two clutch free throws to make it 101-96 with 18.6 seconds left.
Jae Crowder knocked down a three-pointer to make it 101-99 with 8 seconds to play, and the Celtics fouled Irving again.
Irving hit both to make it a two-possession game.
Evan Turner drove the hoop on the next possession and drew a foul, making the layup, but missed the free throw and it was 103-101 with 4.9 seconds to play.
The Celtics grabbed the rebound off the missed free throw and the ball went out of bounds off of Cleveland with 4.1 seconds left.
Bradley knocked down a buzzer beater for three from the corner and the Celtics won 104-103.
LeBron finished with 30 points.
Irving put up 19 points.
Smith would end the night with 20 points, hitting 5-of-10 three-pointers.
Iman Shumpert swiped six steals on the night, tying his career-high. It was the most he has grabbed in his two seasons with the Cavs.
Thomas led the Celtics in scoring with 22 points. He knocked down all of his 11 free throw attempts, while the Cavs shot a dismal 21-of-35 from the free throw-line.
Bradley finished with 14 points, none of which were bigger than the nail in the coffin.
Former Cavalier Zeller had a productive night, scoring 16 points off the bench.
Former Ohio State Buckeyes Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger made the Cavs pay, as Turner scored 17 points and Sullinger scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked three shots.
The Cavs fall to 35-14 with the loss and are back at it on Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM.