Sunday, 28 May, 2017

Celtics were running on fumes; Cavaliers ran them out of the building

Kathryn Parks | 19 May, 2017, 20:13

The win was the Cavaliers' 12th in a row in the playoffs (one shy of matching the National Basketball Association record, set by the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers), dating back to last year's finals, while the Celtics' five-game home playoff winning streak was stopped.

Then, Thompson quickly finds Kyrie Irving in the corner who passed up a somewhat open shot to find Kevin Love on the left wing for a wide open three that he promptly splashes, pushing the lead to 21 points in the second quarter.

Boston also seemed content to make every switch created by Cleveland screens, leading to some awkward matchups for James in the first half. Boston had 39 points in the first half.

With 3:18 left in the third quarter in Game 1 and the Cavs ahead 89-64, Thomas missed on a drive to the hoop and hit the deck. Boston was down by 22 at halftime which tied the largest halftime playoff deficit at home in franchise history.

It's not Boston's best, but both were much improved when paired up with Horford - Green and Horford, plus-nine; Brown and Horford, plus-seven. He only scored 11 points on the night. Instead, they'll be limited to 30 percent of the salary cap, just like his free agent suitors, with the added carrot of offering a fifth year (the Celtics and other suitors can only offer four). In the final five minutes of the period, Boston went on a 15-4 run but were still down big, 92-75. Boston's inability to even give James some semblance of a matchup problem was evident throughout the night.

This second-round playoff series between the Celtics and Wizards has been the very definition of home-court advantage.

Some third-quarter unpleasantness erupted between Thompson and Boston's Marcus Smart.

Top PerformersBoston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) attempts to steal the ball from Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23).

On Wednesday, three players scored 20 or more points for the Cavaliers (James - 38, Love - 32, Thompson - 20).

Tristan Thompson was a handful for the Celtics to deal with, as well, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds (six of which were offensive boards).

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 17 and 10 assists, but the feisty 5-foot-9 sparkplug couldn't get any traction on offense, hitting just 7 of 19 field goals. It's still a little early to have the "greatest player ever" discussion, but nights like Wednesday are why LeBron has earned the right to be in that conversation. We want to let everybody in this world know that we're for real and that we're one of the top teams in the National Basketball Association.

"I think it's the mindset that you have to have when you go on the road for a Game 1", James said. "And that's the reason why we're riding him so much". "To me, going through the ups and downs of a year, we usually just talk about development in terms of minutes, but going through the ups and downs of a year, especially when you're a young guy, and then taking all those good things and applying them in a game with that kind of intensity is invaluable". James has scored 30 points in seven straight games as he looks to visit the finals for the seventh straight season. The Cavs are now 9-0 in this year's postseason. They opened 10-0 last season en route to their first National Basketball Association title.

In Cleveland's four-game sweep of the Celtics in the 2015 playoffs, chippiness between teams escalated as the series wore on and culminated with Kelly Olynyk's ripping Love's shoulder out of place and Smith punching Crowder after Crowder jammed him in the back.

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