Cleveland Cavaliers searching for 3-point range in effort to turn around series against Celtics

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — LeBron James has said it repeatedly throughout the playoffs: The 3-pointer is a huge part of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ offensive formula and while it can be a point of frustration and debated as to whether that’s the best approach, the Cavs aren’t going to stray away from it now.But after shooting just 24.6 percent from beyond the arc in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland is searching for ways to turn that around quickly before one of their biggest advantages becomes their downfall.”They do a really good job of contesting shots,” Kevin Love said Friday afternoon following practice. “They’ve been physical the entire playoffs and Brad Stevens is going to put ’em in really great positions to succeed. Their strength is their entire team. They play extremely well, guys are stepping up throughout the course of the playoffs. We just have to bring it at home and make sure we come out and are in attack mode.”This series with Boston is following the same script as Round One. Against the defensive-minded Pacers, the Cavs’ offense looked completely out of sync.With the 3-ball not falling, hitting just 32 percent from beyond the arc, the Cavs didn’t have too many other places to turn for consistency at that end of the floor. They struggled to reach the 100-point mark most nights. Love’s struggles didn’t help. Nor did George Hill’s back injury. But the missing 3-pointer was the biggest culprit, leading to questions about making philosophical changes on the fly and not hoisting as much from deep.But Cleveland stayed true to its identity and all those issues vanished in the conference semifinals. The Cavs made 46 triples in the four-game sweep, shooting 41.1 percent.”To this point I think we got better shots in the Toronto series,” said Kyle Korver, who made 14 3-pointers and shot 56 percent against the Raptors. “But that’s what happens when you advance in the playoffs. We’re not expecting if we run the play right to get wide-open shots. That’s not the way it works anymore. There are four teams left for a reason. We just have to be ready for shots that we get and know that they might not all be wide-open ones. We have to start making some.”The Cavs did in the first half of Game 2, going 7-of-14 from 3-point range. James went 4-of-7 and Korver made both of his attempts. Not surprisingly they scored 55 points and took a seven-point lead into the half.But as has been the case all season, the streaky Cavs started to unravel when the outside shots stopped falling. It’s their most accurate barometer of success or failure.During a second half stretch where Korver said he could sense frustration, they went just 3-of-17 from long range. The swarming Celtics played a role in that, allowing just three of 39 uncontested shots, turning a close game that Cleveland looked capable of winning into a Boston runaway. For the game, the Celtics contested nearly half of Cleveland’s shot attempts.The solution for getting cleaner looks, according to Lue and other players, is to speed up the offense.