LeBron, Cavs have reeling Celtics in must-win for Game 2


Well, that was fun.

No one exemplified Boston's falloff from Game 7 against Washington to Game 1 against Cleveland better than Kelly Olynyk. Don't be surprised to see more offensive-minded players (Gerald Green) with more minutes in Game 2 or a smaller wing inserted into the starting five in place of Amir Johnson. There was no concern about too much rest.

Kevin Love scored 18 points on 5-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc during the third frame. He only scored 11 points on the night.

And, just like that, it seems like it's happening all over again.

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LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have become a juggernaut in the playoffs and they handled the Celtics 117-104 in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals. Just look at the mid-2010s Indiana Pacers, last year's Atlanta Hawks or the this year's Toronto Raptors. There was a lot of scrambling and while that made it hard for the Celtics to compete, the Cavaliers didn't even take full advantage of how often the Boston defense was off balance.

"I just think that they were the more aggressive team with more energy, and they got us down from the beginning", said Celtics center Al Horford, who had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Here's four ways LeBorn and the Cavaliers embarrassed Boston in Game 1. James was hijacking Cleveland's offense, pounding the ball into the floor and settling for bad shots. The only two other exceptions are the 2007 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs and 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics. Thompson set a new playoff career high.

Added the coach: "Every time you play in a basketball game, you have a margin for error". That only occurred in 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2013. He was also the first Cavalier outside of LeBron to score 30 points and grab 10 rebounds in a playoff game since Brad Daugherty in 1992. Those four seasons were 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

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But during the Cavs' nine-day break in between rounds, Lue vowed to utilize Love more and blamed himself for the postseason downturn in Love's production.

But this time is different for the Celtics as they're riding on a high note after conquering the Wizards in Game 7 of their semi-final duel. James has scored 30 or more points in 8 of the 9 playoff games this season.

A loss Friday would also leave Boston with the daunting proposition of having to win four out of five games to take the series - a almost impossible task against a team that since James returned to Cleveland in 2014-15 has a 33-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents. He has won 15 series-clinching games on the road.

"We know Isaiah is risky, and when he gets going, the crowd really gets into it, their team gets into it, and it opens up a lot of things", Lue explained after the win. The only prior victory occurred during the 2015 East Finals vs. Atlanta. Still, great effort is an absolute must for any team to have if they have visions of knocking off the Cavs, winners of 12 straight playoff games dating back to last season's title run. The Cavaliers are always going to find ways to score, the Celtics can not be ineffective on the offense end and hope that James will start making the mistakes that he hasn't made at any point in the playoffs. James and Westbrook each got 99 of a possible 100 first-team votes.

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