Was there a specific point when we knew Game 1 was over and done with? How about tip-off?
To almost no one’s surprise, the Cavs made light work of the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Two days removed from a Game 7 victory in its Eastern Conference semis series with Washington, we correctly assumed Boston wouldn’t be able to rally emotionally for their first game against Cleveland after such a quick turnaround.
So the Celtics came out flat, couldn’t score, and watched the Cavs cruise to an 11-point lead after the first quarter and 22-point advantage at halftime. It was officially a laugher by the time both teams got into the locker room, and it was a case of just playing out the string over the final 24 minutes. That, or admiring the brilliance of LeBron James.
After an easy 117-104 Cleveland victory that wasn’t even that close, we asked ourselves if we learned anything from last night? To be honest, not a whole hell of a lot. But there are a few lessons we can take away from watching the Cs get spanked by LeBron and company.
LeBron was nasty.
He finished with 38, 9, and 7. He was responsible for 55 of the Cavs’ 105 points while in the game. He practically made a meme out of Isaiah Thomas and disrespected Kelly Olynyk by turning his back to him while isolated on the wing. Celtics coach Brad Stevens was rightfully fawning over LeBron in the post-game and is contemplating using more double-teams on him in Game 2. Only problem is that’s going to leave the Cavs’ sharpshooters wide open. Good luck with that, Boston.
The Cavs were D-ing up.
ESPN’s Tim Legler did a great job breaking down how ferocious the Cavs defense was last night on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. The Cavs were jumping into the Celtics’ passing lanes all game long and blanketing Isaiah Thomas, who finished with a measly 17 points. We told you the Cavs are no longer a turnstile around the basket like they were at the end of the regular season. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley were Boston’s co-leading scorers, finishing with 21 apiece. Cleveland will gladly take those two scoring if it means they can keep Thomas from going crazy.
The Celtics are in over their heads.
It’s not a matter of if, but rather when the Cavs move onto the NBA Finals, and the only question worth asking heading into this series was whether the Celtics could snag a game off of Cleveland. We expect better from the Cs in Game 2, but it’s still going to take a gigantic effort for Boston to steal a game. We don’t want to overreact to a Game 1 blowout, but if they don’t take Game 2, is there any doubt Boston’s getting the broom?
We’re not ready to say goodbye to Marv.
I love Mike Breen. I think Jeff Van Gundy is hilarious. Mark Jackson makes good observations. But ESPN’s three-man booth, as good as it is, doesn’t feature the greatest play-by-play man in NBA history: Marvelous Marv Albert. It’s a shame we no longer get to hear Marv’s voice on the NBA’s biggest stage, a product of him being a Turner employee (among other things—use Google, kids) and not having Disney sign his checks. We miss Marv doing the NBA Finals, and considering we (probably) only have three more games between the Cavs and Celtics, enjoy the last vestiges of Marv for the 2016-17 season while you can.