The Cavaliers played about as poorly as they could have in Game 1. Schematically they were a disaster, Al Horford ate Kevin Love alive and LeBron James played his worst playoff game in about six years. It’s easy to be concerned, but LeBron James doesn’t seem to be. This may not be March Madness, but the Cavaliers will need a win in Boston. It wouldn’t hurt to have that win happen in Game 2.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, Game 2
When: 8:30 p.m.
Where: TD Garden; Boston, Massachusetts
Enemy Blog: Celtics Blog
Online: Watch ESPN
Cavs injuries: None to report
Celtics injuries: Kyrie Irving (OUT — knee surgery), Gordon Hayward, (OUT — ankle fracture), Shane Larkin (OUT — shoulder), Daniel Theis (OUT — knee)
Three keys to the game:
- Tristan Thompson seems to be all but confirmed to start in Game 2. This seems to be the wisest move, as he’s famously tortured Al Horford while providing additional rim protection and rebounding against the Celtics. To further matters, playing Kevin Love at center isn’t as helpful as it is against, say, the Raptors. Horford is mobile defensively and not a plodder like Jonas Valanciunas. This is the right call, here.
- The Cavaliers have to be smarter in seeking out switches on offense, and LeBron James has to be less awful against those switches. He was ripped multiple times, settled for horrible shots and never asserted his will in Game 1. We know that this is standard protocol for James to “feel out” his Game 1 opponent, but Cleveland will need a less...terrible...version of LeBron.
- The Cavs, uh, need to make some more threes. Only four made buckets from distance while the Celts poured in 10 from their starters (11 overall) isn’t going to get the job done. The Celtics switching scheme makes it really hard to generate clean offense, but the Cavs can do it. Slipping screens, off-ball pin downs and smart spacing when help collapses need to become the order of the day for Cleveland. As it stands - this Celtics defense mimics the Pacers much more than the Raptors, and that’s going to make things tough on Cleveland.
Kevin Love needs to get going in this series, and if the Cavaliers start Tristan Thompson and the Celtics don’t respond by starting Aron Baynes, he’ll have to cook the likes of Jayson Tatum in the post and on the offensive boards if the Cavaliers want to generate consistent points in this one.
Fear the Sword’s fearless prediction:
The Cavaliers need a win - they grind one out 103-98.