By: Gio Rivera
Celtics escape several key upgraded performances from Cleveland and take 2-0 series lead in Tuesday night’s game 2.
Following a 15-point and 5/16 shooting game 1, many questioned the legendary King James heading into game 2. The criticism of what many called a “lackluster” effort by LeBron was answered by a 42-point, triple-double night. It was James’ 3rd triple-double of this postseason run and consisted of five 3-point field goals made which is the most by LeBron in this seasons playoffs. In a critical game 2 on the road where LeBron was seen nearly 6 hour before tipoff warming up on the floor, James delivered. 25 points was the total for him at the half alone. The final statline tells the story a James shot 55% from the field with 12 assists (2nd highest total this playoff run).
However James was not alone as 10-year veteran, Kevin Love himself showed much improvement from his game 1 performance. Love shot 15% better from the field (50%) and racked up 15 boards to accompany his 22-point night. Shooting guard Kyle Korver came through as well nailing a pair of three’s in his 11-point performance.
Celtics Defensive Excellence
Yet as we’ve seen from Boston throughout these playoffs entirely, the C’s find a way. Despite a 25-point half from LeBron James, the Celtics saw themselves trailing the Cavs by just 7 points. Then came the 2nd half where Brad Stevens’ defense emerged and completely turned the momentum to their favor.
Cleveland shot 51.2% (21/41) from the field and 50% (7/14) from three in a 55-point 1st half from the Cavaliers. Boston’s defense then held the Cavs to 39 in the 2nd half as they shot 41% (16/39) from the field and 17.6% (3/17) from the three. The C’s racked up a total of 8 steals in total oppose to Cleveland’s 2 on the night.
Marcus Morris vs The King
“Personally, I think I’m probably the best guy defending him in the league, outside of Kawhi”. These were the words of first-year Celtic, Marcus Morris prior to opening tip of the series. A comment that received major backlash however Morris has backed up his words.
In game 1, Morris held James to just 5 points on 2/6 shooting with 1 turnover when defending LeBron. In game 2 we saw a similar defensive showdown with Morris limiting LBJ to 6 points on 2/8 shooting with 2 turnovers.
The offensive end was just as strong in the 2nd half especially for Scary-Terry Rozier who had himself a 16-point 2nd half where he finished a +20 on the floor. Rozier was part of an unstoppable Celtics backcourt duo with 2nd-year man,Jaylen Brown who outscored the Cavs backcourt 41-3. That being J.R. Smith and George Hill. Jaylen Brown led all Celtics scorers with 23 points on 9/18 shooting from the field. Al Horford came up with yet another big playoff night as he racked up a double-double, scoring 15 point and totaling 10 rebounds.
History remains on Boston’s side with the Celtics standing 37-0 all-time when leading a playoff series 2-0. We’ll see if Brad Stevens squad can continue their hot play as the series heads to Cleveland. Game 3 of the series is set for Saturday night at 8:30 PM EST.