The ball club should find a way to slow down LeBron James without getting eaten up by other Cavaliers stars.
In fact, the Cavaliers are expecting a must-win mentality from the Celtics as to avoid going into an 0-2 hole after starting the series on their home floor at TD Garden in Boston.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James leaves the court after Game 1 of the team's NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Boston.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James takes the floor for Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Boston.
But here's the rub for top-seeded Boston on Friday night: James said he wasn't even playing at peak condition after Cleveland's 10-day layoff between rounds.
The Cavs won game 1 of the series 117-104, Cleveland has not lost in the playoffs this year. He continued his dynamic playoff run with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a wire-to-wire victory. They also have won 16 of their last 19 post-season road games.
"It was our two bigs that set the tone - Kev and Double-T (Tristan Thompson), they were phenomenal", James said.
"I have to be in attack mode, just put the pressure on the defense, see what happens". "I knew I wouldn't feel that great after the game, and I don't feel that great right now. So he came through for us".
The contrast between Love's game versus James' and Irving's was as stark as ever in the second round against Toronto, when Love averaged just 12 points in the four-game sweep. "He's playing at a high level".
"We're not just happy to be here", said Thomas. "We have to expect that and understand there might be dirty plays and cheap shots or whatever coming from the other side".
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics Game 2 kicks off at 8:30 p.m. The Cavaliers are a self-assured band that had their confidence reinforced with an easy win, but Smith insisted that being confident never leads to overconfidence in their locker room.
"Once you take up space and he beats you by a step, he sprays it to a wide-open shooter", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
For as much as the game was a dominant wire-to-wire victory for the Cavs, the Celtics may have built some positive momentum heading into Game 2 and most importantly didn't lay down after trailing by as many as 28 points.
The game was more of the same for the way Cleveland's postseason has been going, but Boston did show signs of life in the second half, sparked by Avery Bradley (21 points), Jae Crowder (21 points), Jaylen Brown (10 points) and Gerald Green (11 points).
One thing the Celtics would love to bring to the table is more offense from Isaiah Thomas.
"They were the better team tonight".