May 15, 2018
The Eastern Conference Finals started this past Sunday, and it did not go as many experts and analyst expected. Boston came out on the attack, scoring within second of the tip and playing aggressive defense early. Although the Cavs tried to keep up with their play. They looked sluggish, while the C’s wee playing up tempo and confident. They opened a 21-7 lead, and never looked back. Jaylen Brown was big in the first quarter and this play lead them to a 36-18 lead after a Jayson Tatum buzzer beater. Once this lead was built, although it may have been dented, it remained to be difference in the score for close to the entire game. Cleveland’s 26-point halftime deficit was the largest in LeBron James’ 229-game postseason career, but that wasn’t even the worst news for the King.
Al Horford usually is slowed by the Cavaliers, but Sunday was much different. He scored 20 points, had four rebounds, and six assists, but his presence on the inside, both offensively and defensively, was felt all game. Jaylen Brown, in my opinion, was the best player on the court this Mother’s Day. He found the right people, made the right play, was a consistent nuisance on defense, and displayed unlimited energy throughout the night which lead to a 23 point and eight rebound outing. All the talk before this series began was on the matchup between Celtic Marcus Morris and LeBron James, in which Morris stated he was the best defender in the NBA to guard LeBron besides two-way superstar Kawhi Leonard. LeBron only scored 15 points on 16 shots, and although credit is due to Morris, the Celtics defense as a whole stopped the King and the rest of the Cavaliers.
LeBron James played some of the worst basketball of his postseason career statistically, with staggering seven turnovers to join a plus minus rating of minus 32. Although he says he is not worried, because it is only a 0-1 Celtics series lead, should Cavalier fans be? Or should they not overreact because the Cavs have already had a rationalization that it would be difficult to play worst than they did Sunday afternoon. Cleveland went 4-26 from behind the arc and missed the first 14 three pointers they attempted, and also only made 1-12 uncontested threes. Kevin Love led the Cavs in scoring with 17 points but did not have same connection with the King as we saw in the series prior to this one. He also struggled on the defensive end of the floor, and when other Cavalier players went to help him, the ball movement from Boston was unparalleled, and this led to basket after basket. Other than LeBron and Kevin, Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson were the only two other players to score double digits, and the contributions were clearly not enough from any Cavalier Sunday afternoon.
The night was physical, but the referees did a good job of letting them play, and this really helped the C’s. Hustle, aggressiveness, and confidence is something the Celtics played with all night, and couple that with great ball movement and an “off” night from the best player in the league, LeBron James, you get the results in which we saw yesterday. The Celtics took whatever the Cavs gave them, and the Cavs defense was very giving, leaving three-point shooters wide open for the majority of the night. The Celtics are young and fearless, and once they get hot, they will be hard to stop. But, it is almost like déjà vu, we saw the Cavs get blown out by the Pacers in game 1 of that series, and rally back to win it in 7. Should we expect to see the same fire the Cavs began to play with towards the end of Pacers’ series and throughout the Toronto series in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals, or are the Celtics too much and too young to overcome, especially when you have Marcus Morris, aka the LeBron Stopper, alongside to solidify your defensive efforts? We will tune in at 8:30 pm Eastern Time and see if the Kind shall tie the series or the young and fearless Celtics will take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
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