The Cleveland Cavaliers followed up their Game 1 beatdown performance against the Boston Celtics by going the extra mile and making sure the Celtics are so far gone that possibility for a comeback is dwindling every second.
The Cavaliers set an NBA playoff record for the largest halftime lead when they were up 41 points. Yes, 72-31, the actual halftime score of a real NBA game, an Eastern Conference Finals game. The Cavaliers would go on to win 130-86 as the Cavs’ bench unit played practically the entire fourth quarter — at which point the lead eventually hit 50 points. As the Cavaliers move forward with an unreal amount of confidence, they head back home for what may be the least hyped Game 3 I can ever remember in an Eastern Conference Finals series. But let’s not think about that just yet, and let’s check out what we learned (or already knew) from an uneventful Game 2.
I think it was about the five minute mark into the second quarter when I realized what was going on, the Cavs lead had already ballooned to 25-plus when I looked over to my friend (who is not a Cavaliers or Celtics fan) watching the game with me. We both looked at each other in agreement that there was no reason for him to continue watching this game with me. The game was entertaining to a point, but when LeBron and company kept banging home threes both contested and wide-open, I couldn’t help but think, “Man... This is hard to watch.” and it really felt like that. Normally a 40-point beatdown on the home court of one of the most historic franchises in NBA history would entice me to the point that I’d want to watch it over and over again, but this game was like watching a bulldog play with it’s kibble-sized food. It wasn’t fun to watch after halftime, and that may be the biggest takeaway.
The Cavaliers are making a mockery of the Celtics
There isn’t another way to sugar coat it, this series has been over since halftime of Game 1 and the saddest (or most exciting, depending on your point of view) part is that the Celtics knew it was over. There was no life from the team in green on Friday night, they came out sluggish and uninterested and the Cavaliers took full advantage of it, ending the game after one quarter. It has been a spectacle to watch the best player in the world completely unravel an opponent — the number one seed in the Eastern Conference — and destroy their confidence to the point that they unofficially waved the white flag.
There are times when I almost felt bad for the Celtics. When LeBron James is doing the “best player in the world” type things that he is famous for, there isn’t anything any one player in the entire world can do to stop him, especially not Jae Crowder or Jaylen Brown, a rookie. The Cavaliers are heading towards a sweep and J.R. Smith knows it better than anyone.
J.R. Smith calling a sweep in the middle of game 2 pic.twitter.com/n6sjcPj66A— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) May 20, 2017
Isaiah Thomas leaves Game 2 with hip injury
Something new that everyone learned last night that Thomas has apparently been injured for the last several days, dating back to Game 6 of their seven-game series against the Washington Wizards. Thomas aggravated a hip injury in the first half of Game 2 against the Cavaliers and sat out the entire second half as the game was already decided at that point. Thomas is listed as uncertain for Game 3 in Cleveland and it poses the question of whether or not he should even play.
With how lackluster his team has been playing, there may not be a legitimate reason for him to continue playing. Whether or not Thomas’ injury has largely affected his play over the first two games is unknown, but shooting 7-25 through the first game and a half of the most important series of his life is more than worrisome. It makes sense that an injury may have affected his play, but that isn’t an excuse for the fact that he looked like a deer in headlights whenever a double-team was brought his way. Thomas never once looked like he knew what he was going to do next when the Cavs brought that second defender.
His hesitance resulted in him either quickly passing the ball of to teammates for contested shots or putting his head down and getting stuck in the air with no where to go. Thomas looked out of it, and if he was in so much pain to the point where he had could not continue to play in the Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps he shouldn’t have been out there in the first place. Thomas has been the Celtics go-to scorer all season, but in this series, he has been a contributing factor to their demise.
For the second game in a row, LeBron went supernova
LeBron James followed up a 38/9/7 performance in Game 1 with the less-impressive stat line (largely due to playing nine less minutes than Game 1) of 30 points, four rebounds, and seven assists to go along with four steals and three blocks. LeBron is now shooting 62 percent from the field and 42 percent from three for the series. While the statline wasn’t as stellar as Game 1, what LeBron did in Game 2 somehow seemed easier for him. He was pulling up for contested threes, draining them straight in the defenders eye before jogging back down the court with the same look of determination we’ve seen all playoffs. We even got to witness a display of pure athletic talent before the game officially got out of hand when LeBron executed a perfectly-timed chase-down block on Avery Bradley.
Peep how Bron slows up for a split second to make sure he's in Bradley blind spot before he closes in on him. This dude... https://t.co/wySi3oAmCF— Larry Beyince (@DragonflyJonez) May 20, 2017
It was one of those plays where once you saw LeBron start to chop his feet, you knew that Bradley was about to get pinned not only on the backboard, but on the Twitter profiles of everyone who was eager to roast him.
The Cavaliers are now 10-0 to start the playoffs and they’re on a 13-game playoff win streak dating back to last season’s NBA Finals. With the series heading back to Cleveland for at least two more games, the Cavs are showing little signs that they are anywhere near their playoff peak. With the Warriors-Spurs series following the same path the Cavs-Celtics series is, finishing off the Celtics as soon as possible will give the Cavs as much extra rest as possible.