Perhaps a little bit of extra practice will get James and the Cavs back to their winning ways. Morris probably won't light it up like that again but the Cavs don't have any defensive stoppers outside of James and no rim protection, so the Celtics should feast each night. They might even be ahead of Rodney Hood on the Cavs' current depth chart, actually. His average in the postseason this year is 55.3-percent and his worst game before this was when he hit 40-percent against Toronto in Game 1 last round. It's borderline unheard of. He also recorded seven turnovers to nine assists, and the Cavs were down by more than 20 points for much of the game. That percentage stands as the ninth-worst single-game mark of his his 229-game playoff career.
After the game, LeBron James was asked to describe a turning point in the game when the Celtics pulled away, and he robotically described three straight possessions, blow-by-blow.
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.
Begin with the obvious point: Thompson is not wrong. The Cavaliers have yet to lose back-to-back games in the playoffs but do they have any answers for Game 2 of this National Basketball Association matchup?
Before this loss, his lowest scoring output in the playoffs was 22 points in Game 6 of the series against the Indiana Pacers. James has posted five double-doubles and two triple-doubles in that 12-game sample, as well. The TD Garden has seen no shortage of special LeBron moments, especially when his back has been against the wall. So let's just enjoy this while it lasts, because the Celtics don't give in and they can take a punch, even when LeBron James is hell bent on destroying them. Cleveland is going to need his rebounding in this series, so I think he logs more minutes tonight as well.
Points at the line might be scarce for Boston in this showdown. And with the expectation for a forceful response from James in Game 2, it's worth studying the history, as he suggested.
The not-so-secretive plan to move center Tristan Thompson into the starting five is Lue's attempt to essentially trick Stevens into inserting Aron Baynes into the starting lineup and move Marcus Morris to the bench.
"I have zero level of concern at this stage", the three-time NBA Champion explained to reporters after Game 1.
"He's a tough guy". "Trying to make him uncomfortable".
"I think it was our energy defensively", Al Horford said. And LeBron was slowed down by Morris, but he was also pickpocketed by Smart, while his post-ups were consistently complicated by weakside help from Brown, Horford, and Tatum.
It's one of the adjustments James and the Cavaliers will likely make going into Game 2.
But the Celtics, for what it's worth, are aware of what's coming their way from James in Game 2. "He's going to approach this game as one where he's going to have to lead and bounce back". "He always finds another gear to go into". It's possible. But what we do know is the trade greatly changed the trajectory for both franchises. "Everybody played a part in guarding him". Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty?