Posted on May 19, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Boston Celtics won the NBA Lottery Tuesday night and probably hoped that they could have similar luck Wednesday night in Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals. But it would take more to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers than simply having more balls and a fair amount of luck.
As it turns out, the Celtics didn’t have nearly enough luck—and didn’t make nearly enough shots—to pull out a win in Game One.
Boston may be the higher seed and have home-court advantage, but they certainly didn’t get anything from it Wednesday night. The Celtics fell behind by 11 points after the first quarter, 30-19, and by the time halftime rolled around, this one was getting ugly. Cleveland’s offense was scoring with ease, and the defense was also playing well.
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With a 22-point advantage after the first half, the Cavaliers didn’t need to do much in the second. They just needed to keep the Celtics from believing they had a chance—and they did. Boston was able to close the gap but they never really threatened. In the end, they made it look better but still lost by double digits, 117-104.
“It was our two bigs that set the tone — Kev [Kevin Love] and Double-T [Tristan Thompson], they were phenomenal,” LeBron James said after the game. “I saw it in Kev this morning. I knew what type of game he was going to have. So he came through for us.”
Kevin Love had his best game of the postseason with 32 points (9-16 from the floor; 6-9 from three-point range) and 12 rebounds. Tristan Thompson had his best game of the postseason as well with 20 points (7-7 from the floor) and nine rebounds.
LeBron James led the way, of course, with another great game (38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists).
“He’s playing at a high level. And that’s the reason why we’re riding him so much,” Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue said following the game. “When LeBron’s playing at that level, other guys just have to be solid, and we have a good chance to win.”
The long layoff didn’t seem to bother the Cavaliers, but the Celtics sure looked like they could use a break. Isaiah Thomas did a good job distributing the ball (ten assists), but the Celtics will need him to become more of a scoring threat if they are going to have even a remote chance of winning the series. He scored only 17 points on the night (7-19 from the floor; 2-7 from three-point range).
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the way for the Celtics with 21 points each.
“They were the better team tonight. The hit us first. They were more physical,” Thomas said (ESPN). “We can’t let that happen again.”
Boston will have a little time to figure out a better game plan. Game Two will be Friday night at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.