James scores 31, Cavs beat Celts 103-95 for 3-0 series lead                           

BOSTON:  LeBron James got to the arena early. When he left the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance to put an early end to the series.

James scored 31 points in his first playoff game in Boston since a masterful performance in the 2012 postseason. And Cleveland moved one win away from a sweep in its first playoff series in five years with a 103-95 victory Thursday night.NBA Playoffs Logo

James arrived an hour early at the morning shoot around, accompanied by teammate J.R. Smith. It was a sign of his leadership, according to coach David Blatt.

Smith had his best game of the series with 15 points.

Cleveland can complete the sweep of the best-of-seven series Sunday in Boston. No NBA team has won a series after trailing 3-0.

Kevin Love added 23 points for Cleveland, none bigger than two 3-pointers after Boston cut the lead to 95-92 on Evan Turner’s 3-pointer with 2:45 left. Those shots put Cleveland up 101-93 with 26 seconds to go.

Turner had 19 points and Avery Bradley added 18 for Boston while Isaiah Thomas managed just five points and missed seven of nine shots after scoring 22 in the first two games.

Boston tied it at 56 by scoring the first eight points of the third quarter. Then Cleveland went on another spurt and took a 77-66 lead on a 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving with just under 4 minutes left in the period.

The Cavaliers led 84-76 after three quarters before James opened the fourth by scoring Cleveland’s first seven points for a 91-82 lead then fed Tristan Thompson with an alley-oop pass.

Cleveland is in its first playoff series since 2010 when it lost the Eastern Conference semifinals to Boston in six games. Two months later, James left for the Heat and led them to the NBA Finals in all four of his seasons, winning two championships before returning to the Cavaliers this season.

James finished with 11 rebounds and just two turnovers after committing 11 in the first two games. Love had nine rebounds.

Cleveland leads series 3-0

Bulls hold off Bucks 113-106 in double, Warriors beat Pelicans

MILWAUKEE: Jimmy Butler intercepted the errant pass and darted the other way for a fast break basket.

Finally, the Chicago Bulls were able to shake free from the pesky Milwaukee Bucks.

Derrick Rose scored 34 points, and Butler added 24 in the Bulls’ 113-106 double-overtime victory Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

Butler got the second overtime off to a rousing start, converting the bad pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo into a dunk that started an 8-0 run that gave Chicago a 109-101 lead with 2:44 left. It was one of four steals in the final period for Chicago.

Rose played a huge part, too. The Chicago backcourt has been bugging Milwaukee all series.

Chicago appeared to have wrapped things up with 2:50 left in regulation after Tony Snell hit his second straight 3 for a 94-84 lead, rousing an often Bulls-friendly crowd. The Bradley Center at times felt like a northern outpost for Bulls fans who made the barely 90-minute drive from Chicago.

It was hard to believe that Chicago trailed 49-31 with 4:03 left in the second quarter. But the Bulls closed the half with an 18-4 spurt to get within 53-49.

Former Chicago forward Scottie Pippen rooted the Bulls on from courtside.

Chicago leads the series 3-0

NEW ORLEANS :  Stephen Curry scored 40 points, including a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation to complete a 20-point, fourth-quarter comeback, and the Golden State Warriors beat New Orleans 123-119 in overtime Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Curry hit seven 3s in all, including one to start overtime that gave the Warriors the lead for good.

Klay Thompson had 28 points for the Warriors, who trailed 89-69 after three quarters, then outscored New Orleans 39-19 over the next 12 minutes.

The Pelicans, who went 28-13 at home during the regular season, withstood a strong start by Golden State and then used a stunning 19-0 run to open a double-digit lead.

Davis started the surge with a putback dunk and Cole scored seven points during the run, including a 3 and reverse layup, the latter putting the Pelicans up 39-25.

New Orleans led by as many as 16 points in the quarter before Golden State trimmed it to 63-52 at halftime, thanks in part to Thompson’s fifth 3 of the half.

Golden State Warriors lead 3-0.

Results:

Cleveland Cavaliers 103 beat Boston Celtics 95, Chicago Bulls 113 beat Milwaukee Bucks 106, Golden State Warriors 123 beat New Orleans Pelicans 119

Live On Sony Six on 25 April 2015:

Dallas Mavericks v/s Houston Rockets 4:30 Am

San Antonio Spurs v/s Los Angeles Clippers 7:00 Am

Vishnu Ravi Shankar
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