Boston Celtics pull off stunner of a comeback, coming from 21 points down to defeat Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers’ Iman Shumpert, right, drives on the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart during the second half of Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals Sunday in Cleveland. (AP photo)

CLEVELAND — Leprechauns are imaginary. Celtic pride is very real.

Avery Bradley’s 3-pointer danced on the rim and dropped with less than a second left and Boston, blown out in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals and playing without its star guard, stunned Cleveland 111-108 on Sunday night in Game 3 to end the champions’ 13-game postseason winning streak.

Bradley’s shot from the left wing — off a play designed by coach Brad Stevens — bounced on the rim four times before going down. It capped a furious comeback by the Celtics, who trailed by 21 in the third quarter before rallying to tighten up a series that appeared to be over.

“We have guys who have chips on their shoulders,” Stevens said. “We knew that Friday (Game 2) was a disaster. It wasn’t worth all four. It was worth one. So we got back together.”

Marcus Smart, who started in place of Isaiah Thomas, made seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, and Bradley had 20 for the Celtics, who were given little chance after losing by 44 in Game 2 and then losing Thomas for the rest of the season.

“Everybody had to step up their game tonight especially with one of our brothers down,” Smart said.

Kyrie Irving scored 29 points, and Kevin Love had 28 for Cleveland. The Cavs dropped to 10-1 this postseason.

LeBron James had one of the worst games of his postseason career, finishing with 11 points and six turnovers.

“I didn’t have it,” said James. “You let a team like that grab momentum you almost knew a shot like that was going in.”

Despite James’ struggles, the Cavaliers led 77-56 in the third quarter after making 14 3-pointers in the first half.