Breakfast Special: The Celtics Play Smart Basketball

It’s a brave new NBA world we live in, where no 20-point lead is safe.

You think your team is on its way to a blowout, the kind of game where the starters sit the fourth quarter, and then next thing you know, it’s halftime, you’re up by five, and you might as well not have played the first 24 minutes at all.

And then there’s “you lost sight of Marcus Smart and he buried you beneath a barrage of three-pointers.”

Such was the fate of the Philadelphia 76ers in Boston, as they fell down two games to nil against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday night.

Ben Simmons was an unholy mess in this game. One point, 0-of-4 shooting, 1-of-2 from the line, five rebounds, seven assists.

Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum had 21 points on 7-of-14, Smart had 19 as he shot 4-of-10 on three-pointers and 2-of-3 on two-pointers, Al Horford was plus-21 in a game the Celtics won 108-103, and a game the Sixers led 48-26 with 6:41 left in the second quarter went 82-55 to the home team in the remaining 30:19.

The Celtics are 6-0 at home in the playoffs. And with Cleveland thumping Toronto, home court advantage might just get a team with an injured Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to the NBA Finals.

All hail the youth movement; Danny Ainge‘s fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets is the story of the playoffs.

Highlights? Yes. We have those. Tatum’s your leading scorer…

…and Terry Rozier is your Kyrie Lite night in and night out:

We oughtta just call Tatum and Rozier Gordon Who and Kyrie Who at this point.

The Raptors Are Dead

Every year, before the playoffs start, someone (me) looks at the Raptors’ advanced stats from the regular season, notices that they play exceptionally sound fundamental basketball, and predicts them to make the NBA Finals.

And every year, LeBron James punks them and makes them look like a G-League team.

Cleveland has now won eight playoff games in a row against Toronto, stretching back to the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Cavs won Game 5 at home and Game 6 on the road.

They swept the Raptors last year, and in a twist, they’re up 2-0 on Toronto this year while having won the first two games on the series on Toronto’s floor.

LeBron had 43 points on 19-of-28 shooting, 1-of-3 from three, and 4-of-8 from the line.

In other words, he played DeMar DeRozan‘s game better than DeRozan did—he was 11-of-23 from the field, 0-of-5 from three, and 2-of-2 from the line for 24 points.

Oh, and Bron had eight rebounds and 14 assists; DeRozan had zero rebounds and three assists.

The Raptors shot 54.3 percent from the field, 40 percent (12-of-30) from three, and 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) from the free throw line. They turned it over 11 times. Those are the kinds of fundamentals that are supposed to win playoff games.

But nope. The Cavs got whatever they wanted out there, hit 59.5 percent of their shots, 42.3 percent (11-of-26) of their threes, Kevin Love had 31 points on 11-of-21 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, and Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith combined to shoot 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from three for a combined punch of 20 points, 15 from Smith and five from Korver.

Oh, and the Cavs had three turnovers. Three. You want games won by fundamentals? That’s how it’s done.

LeBron is a god among men in his 15th season as he tries to make the Finals for the eighth straight year:

And let’s show the big white dude some Love:

Do you like sweet passing? Watch some sweet passing.

A couple of West Game 3s on Friday night, as the Rockets go to Utah to try and restore order to their series, while the Pelicans try to hold serve and keep themselves alive against Golden State.

Highlights tomorrow, basketball tonight! Stay tuned and thanks for reading!