Cavs blow out Celtics, and LeBron, Love actually could've made it worse
The Cavs are worlds better than Boston and it showed
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers continued their unstoppable roll through the playoffs Wednesday with their 117-104 victory over the No.1 seed Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The score doesn't reflect how much of a blowout this was, with the Cavs leading by 26 at one point before an admirable Boston 3rd quarter and garbage time got it a bit closer. Here's what you need to know.
LeBron James is an absolute monster
We've seen enough LeBron James games to be able to categorize them. There's "standard LeBron," "high-function LeBron," "defense-focused LeBron," and "hot-shooting LeBron." This one was a "Laugh-out-loud" LeBron game. He did so many things, showcased such incredible skill, that all you can do is start to laugh. He hit a fade-away off the glass like Hakeem. He hit the elbow post-up turnaround jumper. He hit twisting layups, short-range shots, everything. He was 1-of-6 from deep, and still was absurd.
He shot 14-of-24 from the field, grabbed nine rebounds and slung seven assists with only two turnovers.
There's just no way to really describe the control that James has over the game at this point. He knew everything the Celtics tried to do, before they tried it, beating them with pinpoint passes to the opposite corner. He helped Celtics up off the floor, patted their head when they made a good play. He also manhandled Isaiah Thomas at every turn on both ends of the floor. He sought out mismatches and brutalized them.
LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, and even his line doesn't do justice to what he did in this game.
Kevin Love finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds, and nailed six of nine 3-pointers, most off whip passes from James. He stonewalled Al Horford in the post, and nagged rebounds one-handed. When Love is playing like that, the Celtics aren't going to have much of a chance. They have to help too much on James and Kyrie Irving, and trying to recover on Love with his quick shot is impossible.
But more than that, Love's playing with force and focus. After two years of looking lost at times with the Cavs, Love knows his role and is playing aggressively. Boston's going to have to figure out some answers for him in Game 2.
It could have been worse
The Cavaliers shot 11-of-31 from deep, and that number will probably improve in Game 2. The Celtics actually finished with one more offensive rebound and only a slightly lower offensive rebound percentage. James was 1-of-6 from 3-point range, Kyrie Irving had 11 points on 11 shots, and Jae Crowder had 21 points as the Cavaliers let up defensively in the third quarter.
This game was in no way as much of a blowout as it could have been if the Cavs had just done a lot of things they do well at even normal levels.
Welcome to a higher level
Isaiah Thomas is short. And that hasn't stopped him through these playoffs, though he's had a lot of bad games. But the Cavaliers absolutely took advantage, forcing him to drive and then going straight up, especially with LeBron James guarding him. The Cavaliers know Thomas is the tip of the spear for Boston, and they sicked James on him to choke the Celtics' offense out from the get-go. Boston had 39 points in the first half.
The Wizards would play well defensively for stretches, for little bursts. The Cavaliers stayed locked in possession by possession and just hammered them.
Boston missed shots it can make, but it was also out of rhythm and overwhelmed physically.
Hey, at least they got that No.1 pick, though.
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