BOSTON — As has develop into customized in these playoffs, LeBron James declared the opener of his playoff collection as a “feel-out game.” James had solely 15 factors on 5-for-16 taking pictures in Game 1 in opposition to the Celtics and blended in seven turnovers in what was one of many worst postseason video games of his profession.
Credit to the Celtics who employed a switch-everything scheme that additionally included off-the-ball post-switches to gum up Cleveland’s offense. It was a inventive scheme executed effectively, and now the world waits for LeBron’s counter in Game 2.
“Usually when LeBron has these kind of games he does something legendary,” Tristan Thompson mentioned earlier than an off-day apply. “At the same time we can’t rely on that.”
No they will’t, however the actuality is the Cavs don’t have a lot of an opportunity if LeBron isn’t much more legendary in Game 2. Throughout his profession, he’s made a behavior of turning collection round as soon as he has a recreation to suss out the opponent’s technique.
Since the Decision introduced his abilities to Miami, his groups have received eight of the 11 collection wherein they misplaced the opening recreation, with all these losses coming within the Finals. Another solution to put it: He’s been down a recreation 5 occasions to start out a collection within the Eastern Conference playoffs throughout that stretch … and received each time.
The legend of Game 2 LeBron has grown exponentially this postseason. Following a Game 1 loss to the Pacers wherein James shot 7-for-17, he erupted for 46 factors in a must have Game 2 that shortly handed into the LeBron pantheon of clutch performances. Please notice that Bron’s off evening within the opener additionally included a 24-10-12 triple double.
The similar sample adopted within the second spherical. James shot 12-for-30 in Game 1 in opposition to Toronto after which went off for 43 in an excellent Game 2 efficiency. Again notice that he had a triple-double in Game 1 in addition to a game-winner. The man lives in a distinct universe than each different participant, which the Celtics clearly perceive.
“I think we’re very alert to the fact that we’ll get a heavyweight punch on Tuesday night,” Brad Stevens mentioned following Game 1.
That might be true in additional methods than one. The Cavs all however acknowledged outright that Thompson would begin Game 2 as coach Ty Lue famous his huge man’s report in opposition to Al Horford.
“Over the final three years, in the event you research possessions, out of all the blokes that guarded Al Horford, Tristan was primary within the league in defending Al Horford,” Lue mentioned, earlier than including: “You guys have a great day.”
As to why Lue didn’t roll with Thompson in Game 1 — he was detest to interrupt up what had been an efficient beginning lineup with Kevin Love on the 5.
“We won seven out of eight and I wasn’t going to adjust until someone beat us,” Lue mentioned. “We had played well with that lineup and it got us to this point.”
The Celtics may counter with huge man Aron Baynes instead of Marcus Morris within the beginning lineup, however possibly not. Thompson had eight factors and 9 rebounds In 17 minutes when he and Baynes shared the court docket in Game 1, though the Cavs have been a minus-16 in these minutes.
Starting Baynes would set off a domino impact that will have Jaylen Brown defending LeBron to start out the sport. While Brown has achieved moderately effectively in opposition to James up to now, the Celtics just like the matchup with him on Kyle Korver. They’d additionally favor to have Horford persist with Kevin Love, so Stevens could have a call to make. Starting Thompson forces their hand, however that’s what Game 2 changes are all about.
Of course, lots of the Cavs’ issues in Game 1 have been self-inflicted. Time and time once more, the Cavs have been gradual to get into their offense, which performed proper into Boston’s arms. They’ll must play with higher tempo within the half-court to get the C’s protection scrambling, which may open up avenues for Thompson to assault the boards on switches.
“I have to be active on the glass and tell our guys to be confident, go downhill and attack the rim,” Thompson mentioned. “If they miss, I’m going to try and get that offensive rebound.”
The bigger concern, in fact, is what LeBron will deliver to the desk on Tuesday. Every protection leaves holes and it’s his job to seek out these openings and exploit them.
“I have zero level of concern at this stage,” he mentioned after Game 1. “I didn’t go to school, so it’s not March Madness. You know, you get higher all through the collection. You see methods you will get higher all through the collection. But I’ve been down Zero-1, I’ve been down Zero-2. I’ve been down earlier than within the postseason. But for me, there’s by no means no stage of concern irrespective of how dangerous I performed tonight with seven turnovers, how inefficient I used to be taking pictures the ball. I’m simply as assured going right into a collection whether or not it’s a Zero-Zero collection or I’m down Zero-1.”
That’s legend discuss. We’ll see if LeBron can add to his in Game 2.