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The Boston Celtics used LeBron James' great start against him

17 May 2018
The Boston Celtics used LeBron James' great start against him

"He does anything that the team needs to win", backup big man Greg Monroe crowed. Sometimes, teamwork does the job just as well.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has accused Cleveland Cavaliers rival J.R. Smith of being a "dirty" player after the two nearly came to blows in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. Kevin Love put up 22 points with 15 boards and Kyle Korver added 11: the rest of the team combined for 19.

Boston's balanced attack was effective again, with six players reaching double figures.

After scoring just 15 points in Boston's Game 1 blowout, James had 21 in the first quarter on Tuesday night.

James has won five consecutive East play-off series after losing the series opener, although Boston, who improved to 9-0 at home this post-season, has never lost a best-of-seven play-off series when leading 2-0. Boston fought back to win 107-94.

Not even a triple-double from Cleveland superstar LeBron James could stop the Cavaliers from falling 2-0 down in the playoff series on Tuesday. I think we've got to be physical, and we've got to have a physical mindset, you know, that they're coming in, playing tough. "That 12 minutes in the third quarter, that killed us". They will have to be almost flawless in this series to take down the mighty Warriors, but after winning the season series, 2-1, the Rockets have already proven that they can beat the Warriors. And a fight it was largely because of the wonderful influence of James during the 1st quarter, when he recorded a career-high 21 points on 13 shots and gave the Cavaliers a 27-23 lead. You also don't need to be reminded about Crowder being a shell of the player who averaged 13.9 points and shot 39.8% from 3-point range in 2016-17. His 42 points marked his fifth 40-point game of this postseason. He took over the game in every way possible, and utterly dominated the Celtics on all three levels. "You go out and when you lay everything on the line, at the end of the day, you can live with that", James said.

Only this time, instead of responding like the team that crows about their ability to thrive in the face of adversity, they fragmented. We had some good looks, they didn't fall. "No matter what he's shooting in the game, we know he can get going at any point in time, so that's the reason". We've got a lot of different guys guarding him. I blatantly pushed him. The Cavaliers have LeBron James and the Celtics have everything else in this series - coaching, depth, defense, athleticism, effort, offensive balance. The Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference finals, though that's largely due to the brilliance of LeBron James, who probably could have dragged the original roster this far too.

While acquiring a franchise point guard is obviously part of Boston's long-term plan as well, Ainge's more immediate concern was about finding a way to beat the Cavaliers this season.

"We've got to be tougher", Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told reporters after the game.

One of the many bad things about the hot-take era is we make instant judgments that look foolish in hindsight. As they are 1-4 on the road this postseason, including three road loses to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. They were outscored by 14 points during another forgettable third quarter that flipped a seven-point lead to a mirror deficit going into the fourth quarter.