Cleveland Cavaliers sweep Boston Celtics in costly Game 4, 101-93, without Kevin Love and J.R. Smith

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love left the game after getting his left arm tangled up with the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk on a rebound pursuit midway in the first quarter. Olynyk’s role in the incident appeared far from innocent.

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics went down in four games after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-93 on Sunday at TD Garden, but they did some serious damage to the Cavaliers before embarking on their vacation, and the Cavs returned the favor.

LeBron James nearly provided a triple-double, producing 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight rebounds and three steals to lead his team to victory. Kyrie Irving supplied 24 points and 11 assists in a bounce-back from a subpar Game 3 performance.

The game that advanced Cleveland to the second round, where its opponent will be the winner of the Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks series, took a back seat to the numerous altercations that took place.

Boston wanted to play aggressive, physical basketball. That’s one of the reasons Celtics coach Brad Stevens elected to start Jae Crowder to give the team a physicality boost to counter James’ forceful style of play.

At the end of the day, the Celtics took it too far.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love left the game after getting his left arm tangled up with the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk on a rebound pursuit midway in the first quarter. Olynyk’s role in the incident appeared far from innocent.

He tugged at Love’s loose arm, possibly dislocating it. Love was in excruciating pain as he departed. Olynyk only received a common foul. After playing six minutes in the opening quarter, Olynyk only played another five minutes in the second half.

The Cavaliers say they are still in the process of evaluating Love. He only played seven minutes and scored two points.

The Celtics had been bordering on rough tactics throughout. They have been roughing up James excessively, and Jonas Jerebko tried to initiate an altercation with Irving in Game 3 after he pulled the guard to the floor in transition.

On Sunday Cavs coach David Blatt had seen enough. It was time to insert some Perkiness.

Crowder has been stating the entire series about how he loves to get physical with James. Late in the second quarter, Crowder was picking up James fullcourt and when they approached the halfcourt line, Crowder’s life flashed before his very eyes.

Kendrick Perkins knocked Crowder to the ground with a hard, blindsided screen that consisted of a shove to the face. Crowder jumped up and got in the face of Perkins and the big man wasn’t having any of that as he lightly swiped at Crowder’s face, prompting a skirmish.

You can call it retaliation, payback or revenge, but whatever is was, Perkins earned his paycheck for the day. He was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul and was allowed to remain in the game.

Crowder wasn’t done taking a pounding, however.

Early in the third quarter J.R. Smith knocked Crowder to the floor with a backhanded, closed fist punch while the two battled for rebounding position. Crowder was dazed and flat his back on the floor after the play.

He had to be helped off the court and onto the locker room. As Crowder buckled to the hardwood after the blow, he sprained his left knee and that caused him to miss the rest of the contest.

Smith was accessed a Flagrant 2 foul, an immediate disqualification from the game. Smith, along with Perkins, will likely face a suspension when the league reviews film of the incidents.

Olynyk could also be served with a suspension at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

Cavs center Timofey Mozgov registered 12 points, 11 boards and three blocks in 27 minutes. Iman Shumpert came up huge for the Cavaliers off the bench with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Cleveland displayed good ball protection by committing only six turnovers.

Isaiah Thomas and former Ohio State Buckeye Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 21 points each off the bench.

The Celtics were not capable of outscoring a healthy Cavaliers squad for 48 minutes, so their strategy appeared to be to play rough to make it a level playing field.

It almost worked. Boston clawed found themselves down six with 36 seconds left in the game, but a Gigi Datome’s missed 3-pointer erased any chance the Celtics had of extending their season.

A serious Love injury and possible suspensions to Smith and Perkins couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Bulls are up 3-1 in their series and they’re known for their toughness, too.

Cleveland did what it was supposed to do in Boston, but endured so much in doing so. In the next 24 hours or so we’ll know so much more.

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