The 2017 NBA Playoffs continue to be an easy path for the Cleveland Cavaliers who recently destroyed the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
But, the winning stopped there, as the Cleveland Cavaliers dominated the Celtics, winning 117-104 to take a 1-0 lead in the series and take back home-court advantage, something that the Celtics fought to have over the wine and gold the entire regular season.
LeBron James had 38 points with nine rebounds and seven assists while Kevin Love had 32 points and 12 rebounds.
And if the Celtics don't play any better than they did in the first half of the opener, that could be it.
The Celtics' defense was so terrified of James driving to the hoop - as he did in the first quarter when he scored 15 points and was 7-for-7 on shots taken in the paint - that in adjusting to thwart James, they lost track of Love. James started out looking for favorable matchups, singling out Kelly Olynyk and Al Horford following screens that led to the mismatches, but he was having the same level of success against even better defenders such as Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown as well.
But if the Celtics are going to pick themselves up, it must start with All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who scored 17 points, but had to work for every single one just to finish 7 for 19 from the field. Coming off a Game 7 victory over Washington on Monday night, Boston missed 11 of its first 14 shots.
Game 2 is Friday night at TD Garden before the series shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4. "We can't let that happen again". "Obviously, we all know that he was a featured guy pretty much every possession going down the floor, and here that's changed a little bit because we have other guys".
"Everyone talks about the Spurs moving the ball well and getting the open looks, but Golden State are doing exactly that to them".
Perhaps the most competitive moment Wednesday between the Cavaliers and Celtics came during a confrontation between Tristan Thompson and Marcus Smart late in the third quarter. Some jawing continued briefly before James stepped in to pull Thompson away. For the most part, it worked, as Boston cut into the Cavs lead and got a few cheap foul calls.
It didn't last long, though, as the Cavs quickly got the lead back up to 20.
Boston also seemed content to make every switch created by Cleveland screens, leading to some awkward matchups for James in the first half. The Celtics will go into Game 2 with a different plan of attack, can the Cavs adjust? As many of you may have predicted, Iman Shumpert made the team's first three of the game.
One of the Celtics' issues all night was not sending help when James got into one-on-one situations.
"Third quarter could be better", Thompson said.