May 18, 2017, 12:36 am
Okay. Here we go. The first game of the Eastern conference finals. The Boston Celtics have been the most promising upstart team coming out of the pack, looking like they could be serious contenders for the East title. Unfortunately, LeBron James did not receive his copy of that script and decided to, as usual, take matters into his own hands and secure a Game 1 win for himself and the rest of the Cavs.
It’s a good thing that Boston Celtics won the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery. It is, after all, a sweet consolation for coming in second in the East despite being able to grind out that top seed. Yes, I am on the side of the fence that believes that the Cavaliers will take this series, and frankly if the Celtics get to push this series to six games they should consider it a moral victory. The broader storyline view though this is a good thing. This is basketball. There are no moral victories only real ones. And championships. The Celtics will come away from this battered, scarred, but more importantly hungry to get farther because they no they are close and they know it. Their first overall pick gives them the options they need to get even closer, faster.
Sorry Celtics fans. I’m just calling it like I think it’s going to pan out. I’m actually quite excited to be proven wrong. And while I doubt Boston will be able to pull off the upset over the defending champs, if they are able to accomplish the unexpected it will be epic. And epic basketball is always good basketball in my book. That said, unless changes are made, we’re going to see a “wash, rinse, repeat” scenario of Game 1.
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Cleveland Cavaliers 117 – Boston Celtics 104
The Cavs sent the Boston Celtics and their fans a message in Game 1 and it reverberated across the arena loud and clear. “Yes, you are the top-seeded team in the East, but we are the defending NBA champs!” There are Stars. There are All-Stars. There are even Superstars. Isaiah Thomas has shown that he’s treading the line between All-Star and Superstar in the playoffs so far. Well that’s great but LeBron James is a living legend, simply put. Make no mistake, the Celtics did try to give Jae Crowder some help in containing James, alas, it was not enough as James had his way on offense almost all night.
As mentioned, Cleveland had the hot start. Their 30-19 advantage at the end of the first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. James and Kevin Love gave the Celtics headaches. James finished the game with 38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Love stepped up in this game with 32 points and 12 boards to his name, hitting shots from close, medium, and long range. To add insult to injury, the normally offensively deficient Tristan Thompson, shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the field to end the game with 20 points, nine boards and two steals. The Celtics cannot just dare Thompson to score on them, especially when they were already unable to contain Love and James. Kyrie Irving had his hands full on D, facing up against Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. He had a quiet performance with 11 points, six assists, and two steals. There was no real need for J.R. Smith to do much, so he took a back seat to the guys with the hot hands and ended the night with two points in 24 minutes.
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The Celtics finally woke up and made their push in the second half, but it was a matter of being too little, too late. Bradley and Crowder led Boston with 21 points each. Crowder added eight rebounds and five assists, while Bradley had four boards and an assist. Isaiah Thomas had a rough night. It took a while for him to find the hoop consistently and ended the game with 17 points and 10 dimes but committed four turnovers. Hand it to the Cavs, who did their due diligence and watched a lot of tape. Limit Thomas and you limit Boston’s chances for a big fourth quarter explosion.
Again, if this series will go the distance, Boston needs to make adjustments. Some to free up Thomas and another to contain, or at least slow down LeBron James; tasks obviously easier said than done.
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