Celtics take 2-0 lead

Howard TerryMay 17, 2018

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics Beat Cavaliers to advance 2-0. Cleveland is 5-1 at home but only the Game 4 win over a demoralized Toronto team was a one-sided contest.

The NBA will not discipline Cleveland's JR Smith for the foul on Boston's Al Horford in Game 2 of Eastern Conference Finals, league source tells ESPN. Can the Cavs recover as the series shifts back to Ohio? LeBron James led Cleveland with 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in the loss. There wasn't much lacking from James on Tuesday. Brad Stevens always has an option for whichever way James is trying to attack, and they are not going to get worked up over James hitting hard shots with great defense. Tristan Thompson moved into the starting lineup and had eight points plus seven boards: that wasn't almost enough on this night with Boston having six guys in double figures.

The Celtics are 5-1 ATS and SU on three or more days rest, 11-2 ATS and SU on Saturday and 23-8 ATS as a dog this season.

In totality, those three hours on Tuesday night may have sealed Cleveland's fate for the next half-decade.

That was it. That's when the Cavaliers transformed from a team closing in on another shot to steal a game the way they did against Toronto and in to a team that could sense a second straight loss.

Of course, there's irony in Cleveland having backcourt issues in this series. You also don't need to be reminded about Crowder being a shell of the player who averaged 13.9 points and shot 39.8% from 3-point range in 2016-17.

So explosive most nights, their consistency on offense allowed them to overcome and enter the playoffs with a refreshed attitude despite pitiful defensive habits and an overall lack of toughness and goal at that end of the floor. "He's made big shots for us".

But Cleveland's commitment to defense waned as the game wore on. It shouldn't be surprising to see the Cavs lack the energy necessary for all 48 minutes. Rotations are blown too often, and the team seems to content to try to make up deficits on offense instead of locking in defensively. They did what no other team in National Basketball Association history could, come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win the National Basketball Association championship. Even with Thompson giving the team a brief boost, as presently constructed it looks like Lue has no great options to fix his broken defense.

David Liam Kyle  NBAE via Getty Images
David Liam Kyle NBAE via Getty Images

Hood and Clarkson are unplayable against the Celtics, and should the Cavs somehow advance, they shouldn't even be allowed near the Warriors in warmups.

By the time Baynes entered the game with 6:46 remaining in the first quarter, LeBron already had eight points but he was just getting started.

Role players are part of the problem, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

The Celtics didn't score on the possession, but it exemplified the effort that Boston put in while rallying out of a double-digit first-half hole and keeping the Cavaliers at arm's length in the final frame.

According to The Athletic's Jason Lloyd, their blunt thoughts on the deal came out following an ugly regular-season loss featuring some ineffective contributions from the players obtained in the Irving-to-Boston deal late last summer. LeBron and Love can't do it by themselves.

Boston's balanced attack was effective again, with six players reaching double figures. He was hitting the most hard shots, but the Celtics knew how unsustainable that was. Outside of LeBron James and Kevin Love, the supporting cast has been nothing but abysmal.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are up 2-0 on the Cavs without Kyrie. It's not necessarily time to panic yet.

Rooting against Boston is a time-honored tradition in my circle of native New Yorkers, Howard University alums and others who now call D.C. our home. But huge improvements will be needed from Cleveland to make this series competitive. The Cavs aren't cooked yet.

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