If you believe defense wins championships, the Celtics’ game play today made you even more of a believer. Boston shutdown the Cavs in all shapes and forms, including giving us one of the worst games we’ve seen from LeBron James in quite a while. James was a -32 for the game with seven turnovers. While he had 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists he also shot 0-of-5 from behind the arc and 5-of-16 from the floor. Credit the Celtics defense for switching and sending roamers at LeBron to make his entire day difficult. The on ball defense on LeBron was impressive as well, with Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Marcus Morris getting numerous deflections and steals.
The rest of the Cavs were quiet as well, with George Hill, Kyle Korver, and J.R. Smith combining for 14 total points. Cleveland as a team went 4-of-26 from the three-point line and shot 36 percent for the game. While it was an obvious off day for the entire Cavs team based on what we had seen against Toronto, you have to credit the Celtics for causing that environment.
Meanwhile, the Celtics had an extremely balanced attack:
Jaylen Brown: 23 points and 8 rebounds
Marcus Morris: 21 points and 10 rebounds
Al Horford: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
The Celtics had everything going for them in Game 1 in an impressive wire to wire blowout. When the Cavs got within 14 points at the end of the third quarter, the Celtics came out with a 7-0 run that essentially ended the game. It’s likely that this is a long series and anything can happen in Game 2 but the Celtics sure put their stamp on this one.
Celtics 108, Cavs 83 - Final
A complete blowout for the Celtics. In a game that was led by defense, the Cavaliers never stood a chance against this Celtics roster.
Celtics 101, Cavs 75 - 4:35 4Q
It doesn’t look like LeBron James will return to this game. The towel has been waived.
Celtics 85, Cavs 64 - 10:51 4Q
A quick 7-0 run from the Celtics to start the fourth quarter may be the early dagger here.
Marcus Smart casual three right in LeBron's face pic.twitter.com/6XJmSLp0Li— Born Salty (@cjzero) May 13, 2018
Celtics 78, Cavs 64 - End of 3Q
Well ... the Cavs have cut a 28 point lead down to 14. They had 29 points in the third quarter after scoring only 35 in the entire first half.
Jaylen Brown has 23 points and Al Horford has 20 points for Boston. Kevin Love leads the way for Cleveland with 17 points and LeBron James has 15.
Celtics 67, Cavs 47 - 6:54 3Q
The lead was as high as 28 but the Cavs are chipping away ever so slightly. LeBron James still only has 10 points midway through the third quarter and the Cavs are still shooting 2-for-18 from the three-point line.
Celtics 61, Cavs 35 - Halftime
Wooooow. Boston is torching Cleveland so far in this one. The Celtics are forcing anyone but LeBron James to score, and the rest of the Cavs have not come through yet. One on one defense on LeBron has also been spectacular, holding James to only seven points so far, and for the Cavs as a whole to be shooting 34 percent.
Meanwhile, the Celtics have 34 points in the paint and 12 layups. Jaylen Brown has 18 points, Al Horford has 14 points and he’s yet to miss a shot.
This one is all Celtics right now.
Celtics 47, Cavs 27 - 5:25 left in the second quarter
Jayson Tatum has absolute confidence right now. The incredible Celtics rookie lined up a three-pointer right in LeBron James’ eye and wet it, and this game is still all Boston early on.
Also, Al Horford is just sensational.
Celtics 38, Cavs 16 - End of 1Q
Oh boy, the Celtics are rolling. They just had 22 points in the paint in the FIRST QUARTER.
Well, the Celtics are leading 36-18 after the first quarter pic.twitter.com/pusIgKRj3V— CelticsBlog (@celticsblog) May 13, 2018
Celtics 21, Cavs 7 - 5:08 1Q
The Celtics are on a 17-0 run over the last four minutes. Meanwhile, the Cavs 2-of-11 from the floor to start this one. Eeks.
Cavs 7, Celtics 7 - 8:56 1Q
A low scoring game so far as teams feel each other out but self-proclaimed “LeBron James stopper” Marcus Morris already has two fouls. Brad Stevens is leaving him in the game for now.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon. This series is a rematch of last year’s conference finals, which LeBron James and the Cavaliers won in five games as Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas dueled. This year’s competition will look a lot different.
James’ Cavs team swept the Toronto Raptors easily in the second round this year, looking like a complete unit for the first time in months. James himself was brilliant, averaging 34 points on 55 percent shooting, 11 assists, and eight rebounds. Can Boston stop him and a reborn Kevin Love, who averaged 21 points and 12 rebounds in the series?
Boston may have been a conference finals favorite in October, but this is hardly the team we pictured them to be after Gordon Hayward signed as a free agent, and Irving was traded from Cleveland. Neither will play in this series due to injury. Yet Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has somehow pushed a young core of rookie Jayson Tatum, sophomore Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier to fill into their roles and advance this far.
The Celtics knocked off a surging Sixers team in five games, limiting Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid just enough. That was just a warm up compared to The King, who’s looking for his eighth consecutive trip to the Finals.
“He’s been doing this for a long time,” Marcus Smart said, according to the NBA. “He’s, if not the greatest, one of the greatest to do it. What better way than to go up and compete against a guy that’s [going to have] statues and things like that.”
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1
Date: May 13
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston