Before this series, I predicted that the Cavs would win in six, and that the road game that proved decisive would be Game 5; Cleveland, losing the first two on the road, figuring it out at home, and then having LeBron James drop a LeBron Game on the Boston faithful before the Cavs completed their unusual—in the sense that LeBron is on a G-League team yet manages to power them by himself—Finals run, whereupon they’d get stomped in five by Golden State again, the way they were last year and might well have been in 2016 had the league not suspended Draymond Green.
But that was before LeBron put up a 42-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist triple double, exactly the kind of stat line he needs to power his team on the road…and the Cavs got annihilated 107-94 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score.
The Cavs led this one by double digits in the second quarter, but as the Celtics’ Marcus Morris said after the game, it wasn’t because Boston wasn’t playing fundamentally sound defense, Cleveland was just hitting tough shots.
And no team hits tough shots for 48 minutes.
Kevin Love had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Kyle Korver had 11 points in the first half then went AWOL in the second, and the rest of the Canton Charge did absolutely nothing of value, looking an awful lot like that unaired Saturday Night Live sketch.
Meanwhile, the Celtics weren’t great in this one—they shot just 43.5 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from three—but they didn’t have to be.
Free throw battle? 17-of-20 for Boston, 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) for Cleveland.
Turnovers? 15 for the Cavs, five for the Celtics.
Rebounds? 46-45 Boston, including 11-8 on the offensive glass.
Bench points? Boston 28, Cleveland 19, on 47.4/50.0/100.0 FG/3PT/FT for the C’s and 43.8/37.5/66.7 for Cleveland.
Assists? 24 (60 percent of their makes) for Boston, 18 (48.6 percent) for Cleveland.
The teams shot identical 10-of-31 numbers from three-point land. Absolutely every single game-within-the-game battle on a team level, Boston won.
This game was not as close as the score. LeBron James played out of his mind and that is the only reason the Cavaliers did not lose by 30 to a Celtics team having an off night.
Boston is winning Game 4. This series is over in 5.
Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown was the man of the match for the Celtics with 23 points, Scary Terry Rozier had 18 of his own, Marcus Smart came off the bench and led the entire team in plus-minus at plus-21 while scoring 11 points, dishing nine assists, grabbing five rebounds, and playing monster defense to the tune of four steals, all without turning the ball over even once in 31 minutes, and J.R. Smith is a punk who should’ve gotten a Flagrant 2 and a suspension…
Marcus Smart says this isn't the first time JR Smith has played dirty against the Celtics. pic.twitter.com/HYw4TNPX9L
— ESPN (@espn) May 16, 2018
Smith had zero points, missing all seven of his shots. J.R. Smith is trash. He deserves to be suspended.
Jeff Van Gundy is a national treasure:
JR Smith’s best contribution in the playoffs was getting Celtic fans to chant this pic.twitter.com/WIZketRL40
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) May 16, 2018
Stephen A Smith asked a valid question:
This is unreal. Yes, the @celtics are damn good, but this is some of the most God-Awful defense by the @cavs in this 3rd Qt than I’ve seen in some time! How do you come out after halftime — a time when adjustments are suppose to be made — and look like THIS?
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 16, 2018
The answer is that Brad Stevens makes halftime adjustments while Tyronn Lue puts on a Chewbacca costume and says “I’m a Star Wars” like he’s Ralph Wiggum.
And here’s the best guy named Brown ever to wear No. 7 for the Celtics:
— NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2018
Marcus Smart reminds me of Lance Stephenson. His stats look on the surface to be garbage, but you can’t win without a guy like him energizing your second unit:
— NBA (@NBA) May 16, 2018
And oh by the way, the Celtics have never in their history lost a playoff series when they’ve gone up 2-0. That’s 37. In a row.
LeBron’s not winning this series by himself. If he couldn’t do it with a 40-point triple-double in Game 2, he’s not doing it. These aren’t the Pacers he’s playing against.
Meanwhile, out West, a similar question of mismatch looms over Game 2 in Houston; will Golden State effectively close out the series before it even really got started?
We’ll have highlights tomorrow, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!