CLE
BOS

No Text

Celtics take Game 1 of East finals, beating Cavaliers 108-83

BOSTON (AP) The assignment for Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris in his first start this postseason was easy to explain but nearly impossible to execute.

His job: Guard LeBron James, and keep the four-time NBA MVP from running the Celtics out of their own gym in the Eastern Conference finals for the second year in a row.

''He's obviously the best player in the game,'' said Morris, who during the week boasted that he was up to the challenge and on Sunday explained why he wanted it.

''Because I'm a competitor. He's the best player, and I'm going to be able to tell my kids this one day.''

Morris scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds while pestering James into a playoff-high seven turnovers - and a playoff-low 15 points - and the Celtics opened a 21-point, first-quarter lead to scorch Cleveland 108-83 in Game 1.

Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and Al Horford had 20 for Boston, which ran off 17 points in a row in the first and never allowed the Cavaliers within single digits again. The Celtics led by 28 when Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue pulled James for good with 7:09 left.

Game 2 is Tuesday night.

''I have zero level of concern at this stage,'' said James, who was 5 for 16 from the floor and missed all five 3-point attempts.

''I've been down before in the postseason, but for me there's never any level of concern - no matter how bad I played tonight, with seven turnovers, how inefficient I was shooting the ball,'' he said. ''We have another opportunity to be better as a ball club coming in Tuesday night, and we'll see what happens.''

Kevin Love had 17 points and eight rebounds, and James added nine assists and seven boards. The Cavaliers missed their first 14 3-point attempts of the game and shot just 32 percent in the first half.

By that time, Boston led 61-35 - the biggest halftime playoff deficit in James' career.

''I think we're very alert to the fact that we'll get a heavyweight punch on Tuesday night,'' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ''It's another great challenge, another great opportunity to experience something for this team.''

With injured stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving on the bench in street clothes, the Celtics continued their stunning run this season with what may have been the most surprising turn of events yet. A year after dropping the first two games at home against Cleveland in a five-game East final, the Celtics pounced on James, and the favored Cavaliers were never really in it.

''The last couple of playoffs, and our meeting at the end of year, they blew us out of the water,'' Boston guard Marcus Smart said. ''We've got a different team, just like they do, and a lot of younger guys. So for them to see that, and have that feeling like we did tonight, is huge.''

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Kyle Korver's 3-pointer with nine minutes left in the third period was their first after missing 14 in a row. It cut the deficit from 28 points to 65-40. ... Tristan Thompson had eight points and 11 rebounds.

Celtics: The Celtics improved to 8-0 at home this postseason. They do not have to win on the road to reach the NBA Finals. ... Boston's 36-18 lead at the end of one quarter was the second-largest in a playoff game in franchise history.

GET HYPED

The Celtics took the floor to a hype video that began with the broadcast of Hayward's injury in the first quarter of the first game, at Cleveland. A variety of commentators predicted the team's demise, including Hall of Famer Charles Barkley saying: ''Their season's over.''

As more players went down to injury - including Irving, who came over from the Cavaliers last summer but was done for the season in March - the prophesies grew even gloomier.

But there the Celtics were, back in the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavaliers for the second year in a row - with Hayward, Irving, Daniel Theis and Shane Larkin all injured and Stevens down to an eight-man rotation.

It was more than they needed.

Starting in place of Aron Baynes, Morris backed up his boast that he could cover James better than anyone except Kawhi Leonard. The Cavaliers star had seven of Cleveland's nine turnovers after accruing eight in the entire four-game, second-round sweep of the Raptors.

''Our confidence level is very high,'' said Morris, who recorded the first postseason double-double of his career. ''The younger guys to the older guys, we think we can compete and play with anybody. At the end of the day, all the talking is done off the court.''

FAST START

Horford made his first seven shots and scored 10, including eight straight, during the 17-0 run that turned a three-point deficit into a 21-7 lead. After James wiggled his way to a layup - Cleveland's first points in 4 minutes, 43 seconds - Boston ran off eight more points in a row; Brown had six of them, and he finished the quarter with 13 points and five rebounds.

Cleveland scored seven straight points early in the third and finished the quarter with six in a row to make it 78-64. But Boston made the first three baskets in the fourth and, after running off nine in a row to make it 96-68 with 7:09 left, the Cavs conceded.

UP NEXT

Game 2: Tuesday night, Boston.

Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

Key Players
L. James
23 SF
T. Rozier
12 PG
25.9 Min. Per Game 25.9
11.3 Pts. Per Game 11.3
2.9 Ast. Per Game 2.9
4.7 Reb. Per Game 4.7
54.0 Field Goal % 39.5
54.1 Three Point % 39.4
73.2 Free Throw % 77.2
  Defensive rebound by Semi Ojeleye 0:10
  Rodney Hood missed jump shot 0:12
  Defensive rebound by Ante Zizic 0:23
  Semi Ojeleye missed 3-pt. jump shot 0:25
+ 2 Jose Calderon made fade-away jump shot, assist by Ante Zizic 0:39
+ 2 Greg Monroe made floating jump shot 0:56
  Defensive rebound by Greg Monroe 1:06
  Jose Calderon missed 3-pt. jump shot 1:07
+ 1 Semi Ojeleye made free throw 1:19
  Shooting foul on Larry Nance Jr. 1:19
+ 2 Semi Ojeleye made layup 1:19
Team Stats
Points 83 108
Field Goals 31-86 (36.0%) 43-84 (51.2%)
3-Pointers 4-26 (15.4%) 11-30 (36.7%)
Free Throws 17-20 (85.0%) 11-13 (84.6%)
Total Rebounds 47 54
Offensive 9 6
Defensive 31 42
Team 7 6
Assists 18 27
Steals 4 6
Blocks 3 5
Turnovers 9 9
Fouls 12 17
Technicals 0 1
15 PTS, 7 REB, 9 AST
20 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
1234T
away team logo Cavaliers 0-1 1817291983
home team logo Celtics 1-0 36251730108
Team Stats
away team logo Cavaliers 0-1 101.1 PPG 41.4 RPG 19.2 APG
home team logo Celtics 1-0 101.4 PPG 41.7 RPG 21.2 APG
Key Players
K. Love PF 17.6 PPG 9.3 RPG 1.7 APG 45.8 FG%
J. Brown SG 14.5 PPG 5.0 RPG 1.6 APG 46.5 FG%
Top Scorers
K. Love PF 17 PTS 8 REB 3 AST
J. Brown SG 23 PTS 8 REB 1 AST
36.0 FG% 51.2
15.4 3PT FG% 36.7
85.0 FT% 84.6
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Love 30 17 8 3 0 0 1 3 5/14 1/4 6/6 2 6 30 -13
L. James 36 15 7 9 0 2 7 1 5/16 0/5 5/6 0 7 35 -32
G. Hill 28 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 2/4 1/2 0/0 0 0 5 -15
K. Korver 23 5 5 0 1 1 0 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 1 4 12 -10
J. Smith 28 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 2/9 0/3 0/0 0 1 8 -17
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
K. Love 30 17 8 3 0 0 1 3 5/14 1/4 6/6 2 6 30 -13
L. James 36 15 7 9 0 2 7 1 5/16 0/5 5/6 0 7 35 -32
G. Hill 28 5 0 0 0 0 0 1 2/4 1/2 0/0 0 0 5 -15
K. Korver 23 5 5 0 1 1 0 1 2/6 1/5 0/0 1 4 12 -10
J. Smith 28 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 2/9 0/3 0/0 0 1 8 -17
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
R. Hood 18 11 0 2 0 0 0 3 5/12 0/2 1/1 0 0 15 -8
J. Clarkson 15 10 3 0 1 0 0 0 4/11 1/2 1/1 1 2 14 -7
T. Thompson 20 8 11 1 0 0 1 0 4/6 0/0 0/0 4 7 20 -12
J. Green 19 6 1 1 0 0 0 1 1/3 0/1 4/4 1 0 9 -5
J. Calderon 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1/2 0/1 0/0 0 0 2 -3
L. Nance Jr. 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -3
C. Osman 7 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0/3 0/1 0/0 0 2 3 +3
A. Zizic 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/2 0 2 4 -3
O. White - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Perkins - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 232 83 40 18 4 3 9 12 31/86 4/26 17/20 9 31 157 -125
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Brown 28 23 8 1 1 1 2 2 9/16 3/5 2/2 1 7 33 +14
M. Morris 34 21 10 0 0 0 1 3 7/12 3/4 4/5 1 9 30 +25
A. Horford 27 20 4 6 0 2 0 1 8/10 2/4 2/3 2 2 38 +17
J. Tatum 37 16 6 3 2 1 2 3 6/11 2/5 2/2 1 5 29 +27
T. Rozier 34 8 6 8 0 0 1 0 4/10 0/3 0/0 0 6 29 +14
Starters MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
J. Brown 28 23 8 1 1 1 2 2 9/16 3/5 2/2 1 7 33 +14
M. Morris 34 21 10 0 0 0 1 3 7/12 3/4 4/5 1 9 30 +25
A. Horford 27 20 4 6 0 2 0 1 8/10 2/4 2/3 2 2 38 +17
J. Tatum 37 16 6 3 2 1 2 3 6/11 2/5 2/2 1 5 29 +27
T. Rozier 34 8 6 8 0 0 1 0 4/10 0/3 0/0 0 6 29 +14
Bench MIN PTS REB AST STL BLK TO PF FG 3PT FT OREB DREB FPTS +/-
M. Smart 24 9 3 6 1 0 2 2 4/12 1/5 0/0 0 3 23 +16
A. Baynes 25 4 8 2 2 1 0 2 2/5 0/0 0/0 0 8 19 +17
S. Ojeleye 15 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 1/4 0/3 1/1 0 1 4 -2
G. Monroe 4 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 1/1 0/0 0/0 1 1 6 -1
A. Nader 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 1/3 0/1 0/0 0 0 1 -1
G. Yabusele 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 -1
X. Silas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
G. Hayward - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Irving - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
S. Larkin - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Bird - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
K. Allen - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
J. Gibson - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
D. Theis - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Total 236 108 48 27 6 5 9 17 43/84 11/30 11/13 6 42 212 +125