Tyronn Lue no longer has to apologize for his choice of words following Game 2, because the Celtics played like a bunch of goons on Saturday.
Anyone hoping the Cavaliers would crawl into a hole and pull dirt over themselves before Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals could shelve their shovels early. Cleveland showed it still possesses some pride.
After being badly outplayed in the first two games in Boston, the Cavs finally showed up on Saturday and did unto the Celtics as the C’s had done to them in a 116-86 victory before a raucous crowd at the Q.
“We have to play with more substance,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “They took it to us.”
Lue had accused the Celtics of “gooning it up” in the first two games of the series, by which he meant playing more physically. That script flipped on Saturday. Cleveland was the aggressor from the opening tip and never trailed. After watching the Celtics pierce their defense like microwaved brie in Games 1 and 2, the Cavs spent the entire game making 3’s and scoring backdoor at will. The Celtics, meanwhile, struggled to find open looks and bricked the few that presented themselves.
The list of Celtics who played well is known as the empty set. Jaylen Brown produced more fouls than baskets. Marcus Morris and Al Horford failed to crack double figures. Terry Rozier put up a minus-20. The best Celtic on the floor was rookie Jayson Tatum, who led the team with 18 points.
This was the rare game that saw the Celtics never make a run. They trailed by 15 after one, by 20 at the half, and by at least 19 for the entire second half as Cleveland eventually pushed its lead into the 30s. If the Celtics had a trademark comeback in them, it never materialized.
“I felt it was less likely based on how both teams were playing,” Stevens said. “They played with tremendous connectivity. I never doubt our guys. They’re very resilient. They always respond. This will be another challenge to respond to.”
After a pair of abysmal shooting nights in Boston, the Cavs exploded, drilling 17-of-34 3-pointers. The Celtics, meanwhile, made just 6-of-22 from distance, one of the many areas where they were dominated while falling to 1-5 on the road this postseason
LeBron James led Cleveland with 27 points and 12 assists, throwing backdoor passes with both hands for layups and dunks seemingly at will. James (3-for-3) and Kyle Korver (4-for-4) were perfect from beyond the arc. Kevin Love added 13 points and 14 rebounds.
So now the Celtics turn their attention to Monday’s Game 4. Win and this one won’t matter. Lose, and the two squads will return to Boston tied at 2-2, with momentum clearly in Cleveland’s favor.
Full article @ Cavaliers 116, Celtics 86: That’s called getting your you-know-what kicked
Source: GreenStreet Blog