After thoroughly destroying the Celtics in the first two games in Boston, including winning Game 2 by an incredible 44 points, everyone expected the two games in Cleveland to be cakewalks, especially with the Celtics missing Isaiah Thomas.
One of the reasons? According to Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, the Celtics are harder to game plan for without Thomas, who the Celtics run everything through when he's on the court. Lue says that the Celtics have actually been harder to game plan for than the Warriors. Via Cleveland.com:
Boston changed its whole offense and stiffened defensively after losing Thomas in Game 2. Cleveland's entire scheme was built around frustrating Thomas on offense and exploiting him on defense.
"The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's (offense) for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing," Lue said. "Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff but these guys are running all kinds of (stuff). And Brad's (Stevens) got them moving and cutting and playing with pace and everybody is a threat."
Initially, this comment may seem a bit absurd, but it's important to note that Lue isn't saying the Celtics are better or more talented, just that they're harder to game plan for. Which, really, makes sense. Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics don't have a No. 1 option, and instead have been running all sorts of different sets, and incorporating constant cutting and off-ball movement. That kind of sporadic and almost random offense would indeed be difficult to game plan for, because game plans rely on knowing what the defense is going to do, and putting in a plan to stop it.