Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals seemed like a shock to most as the Celtics blew away the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 108-83 rout on Sunday was empowering for a young Celtics team, and helped show a skeptical NBA landscape that the Celtics are strong, athletic and have phenomenal talent even with injuries that may have crushed a lesser squad’s hopes for an extended playoff run.
Small ball was introduced in the starting lineup when Marcus Morris replaced Aaron Baynes. The move delivered great momentum to the Celtics with Morris scoring 21 points with 10 rebounds, despite early foul trouble, while chiefly holding LeBron James to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting with seven turnovers.
James will need to fix his performance, along with Kevin Love, to compete stronger against Boston in this series. Love struggled against Al Horford in the frontcourt all day, while the Cleveland supporting cast was unable to provide any sustained support to James.
Tristan Thompson was not able to be as effective inside as he has been against Boston in the past, while the entire Cleveland team struggled shooting at 36 percent overall and just 15 percent on 3-pointers.
Things got a little tense when Cleveland cut a 28-point deficit to 14 entering the fourth quarter. But the Celtics came back stronger, continued to execute, and used a 7-0 run to extend the lead back to 21.
At that point, it did not seem that the Cavs would mount another comeback as the Celtics persisted, and stretched the gap to as high as 29.
Although Game 1 may have been a blowout, this does not mean Game 2 will be as easy.
Cleveland wants revenge.
And, as Celtics coach Brad Stevens said: “It’s just one game.”
The Celtics will need to continue to keep pushing forward in this series.
Energy will need to be brought to match the Cavaliers’ counterpunch during Game 2.
But Stevens is managing this team brilliantly as the playoffs have progressed, Jaylen Brown’s shot has looked great since his return from a hamstring strain, Jayson Tatum is consistently putting up 20 points per game, and Horford has been a force, showcasing aggressive defense against James and being active enough to get out on Kyle Korver and the Cleveland 3-point shooters behind the arc.
The Celtics need to maintain the confidence they have been mounting, build on their camaraderie, and draw on the will to win they have shown all season.
James should be much better in Game 2.
The Celtics will have to be that much better as well to match his efforts.
About the Podcast:
Celtics Stuff Live was the original live interactive webcast produced specifically for Celtics fans. The show originally aired for two hours every Sunday night and featured regular and prominent guests such as Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Marc Spears, Peter Vecsey, Mark Murphy, Scott Souza, Kelly Dwyer and Gary Tanguay and broadcast on CelticsBlog.com.
Justin Poulin was one of the first members of the internet media to be credentialed with access to the locker room. After effectively retiring in early 2012, Celtics Stuff Live returns with Jon Duke and Justin Poulin featuring the interviews and expert analysis that listeners came to expect from the show in the Danny Ainge era.
Now broadcasting on CLNS Media, Celtics Stuff Live is back! —- CLNS Media is a Boston-based, online, sports radio station that broadcasts some of the most well-known sports radio shows in the country. *For booking or advertising inquiries, please contact the North Station Media business offices at email@example.com. North Station Media also offers a comprehensive podcast university. For more information, contact the NSM business offices at firstname.lastname@example.org.