CHICAGO - It was a uniquely spectacular Saturday (Sunday, Manila time), the kind you probably won't witness again in your lifetime. It began with a royal wedding and ended with a royal beating.
Hours after Prince Harry, heir to the British throne, uttered his "I dos," the Cleveland Cavaliers, with their angry King leading the way, reminded all and sundry that the Eastern Conference is theirs "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse...."
Hours after Meghan Markle had a fairly tale walk down the enchanting aisle at Windsor Castle's St. George chapel, the Cavaliers drubbed the Celtics at the Quicken Loans Arena, 116-86, an omen that midnight might be creeping at Boston's Cinderella run.
"Whatever I have, I share," the prince and his bride promised each other, with God and a billion bewitched TV viewers around the world as their willing witnesses.
Cleveland did the same and shared the ball through the splendor of 23 assists, seven more than the Celtics, who did not part from their game plan but fell apart in the execution, hitting just 28 of 74 field goals (39.2 percent).
Down 0-2, a dire test in which only 19 of 300 NBA playoffs teams have survived, the Cavaliers played together and for each other, pulling on one rope and espousing the same goal: make a fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. They outrebounded the Celtics 45-34 and coughed up one less turnover, 14-15.
"I thought everybody came in and contributed," Cavs coach Ty Lue told The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Kevin Love had 13 points and 14 rebounds. Tristan Thompson tallied 10 points and seven rebounds and he held Boston's Al Horford to just seven points and four field goal attempts. Kyle Korver returned to his familiar role off the bench and merrily drilled 4-of-4 from long distance to finish with 14. Larry Nance Jr added eight points and six rebounds while Jordan Clarkson sank three of seven 3s for nine points.
Sprinkled with pariah dust and ferociously maligned for being outscored by their Boston counterparts 72-60 in Games One and Two, George Hill and J.R. Smith flipped the script in Game Three and combined for 24 points against Jaylen Brown's and Terry Rozier's 23.
"It's very important for our guards to be involved," LeBron said while acknowledging how big Smith and Hill's revival were after both were given up for dead at the TD Garden.
The 3-ball was also huge for Cleveland. The Cavs swished 17 against Boston's six. To the math-impaired, that's a 33-point edge.
LeBron James finished with a quiet 27 points and five rebounds. "I'm just one of the guys on the floor," he told The Boston Herald. It was a futile attempt at humility, like calling Kris Aquino a mere actress.
Do not be fooled by false prophets. While LeBron, also dubbed as the "Chosen One," didn't have one of those 40-plus points implosions, he absolutely was the catalyst in Game Three. His 12 assists to seven different teammates provided the democracy Cleveland's offense needed to topple a disciplined and extremely well-coached foe.
Nice try, Lebron. We appreciate you wanting to be a commoner, but you are the king in Cleveland's kingdom. Always and forever.
Besides the W, which stopped the bleeding and averted an 0-3 deficit, the biggest takeaway for Cleveland's Game Three triumph was the fact that LeBron didn't have to log punishing minutes. After a relatively effortless 38 minutes, he left at the 6:49 mark of the fourth quarter with the Cavs sitting pretty atop a 104-74 bubble.
The slow day at work means LeBron is fresh for Game Four. And this I promise you - there will be no Boston 3-party in Game Four. Only a Boston massacre plotted yet again by a heartless despot who is obsessed with his legacy.
Because the numbers don't lie, the Celtics can find solace in the fact that in the history of the NBA's conference finals, only four of 55 teams were able to overcome an 0-2 deficit. However, of those four survivors,, two teams were LeBron's.
I have a confession to make. I hate weddings. My first one ended in a violent crash that disadvantaged the lives of two innocent children. But this much I must admit, too. While watching the royal wedding with the woman I have loved for 17 years and counting, I had to repeatedly blink the moisture in my baggy eyes.
Harry and Meghan's first kiss was great. But the Cavs kiss of death on the Celtics was the best.