Cleveland Cavaliers 87 - 79 Boston Celtics
The Cavs win a dogfight Sunday night in Boston. Both teams were horrendous from the 3 point line, and had to resort to a grit and grind philosophy. Lebron carried the load as he normally does, but the supporting rest of the starting lineup helped carry the day. The young Boston core just looked overwhelmed by the moment. Fading late and not having a star to carry them. Cleveland will await the winner of Golden State and Houston on Monday night.
Cavs Win, Despite Difficulties
In what was a tumultuous year, Lebron shined more than normal having to carry this squad. Coming in every night and giving it his all, this is one of his greatest performances and easily one of the best statistical postseason in NBA history regardless of finals outcome. Trailing by 10 early in the 2nd quarter, it looked like the season was slipping away. But, Lebron and the Cavs fought back.
Only trailing by 4 going into half, they were right where they wanted to be on the road. The Celtics poor shooting helped keep them in the game, as Lebron would trade a missed three for a driving layup over and over again. The second half is when things really started to swing. The more experienced team started to take control, out scoring the Celtics 48-36 in the second half. Capitalizing on the open possessions, the Cavs started to pull away in the 3rd. A few more mistakes in the 4th sealed the game as the Cavs leaned on Lebron and his playmaking to finish the game.
Lebron finished the night with 35 points on 12 of 24 shooting, 15 boards and 9 assists. Even with all he did, Lebron wasn’t the only key contributor to the Cavaliers victory. Jeff Green led all other Cavs with 19 points, with JR Smith and Tristan Thompson adding 12 and 10 respectively. The rest of the team didn’t add much as the deep ball wasn’t falling for either team. Shooting a combined 14 for 74 from deep, it was exactly what the Cavaliers needed to win this game.
Honestly, I cannot believe the Cavaliers made the finals. After all the issues this year, I just didn’t see the team being able to help Lebron enough when it mattered, but was I proven wrong. It never was just one guy who was the sidekick. Every win, a new Cavalier stepped up. Now, they still have a tough test ahead but just making the finals again is a huge win for the Cavs and their chances of keeping Lebron in town.
Celtics Youth Backfires
Man, what could have been. Having Lebron on the ropes multiple times in this series, the experience gap was just too much to overcome in the end. The 2nd half really proved it. Every time the Celtics would need a big shot, no one could come up with it. This is the first game where I can say they legitimately missed Kyrie and Hayward. Not having an alpha to take control when the game was slipping away is what ultimately finished the Celtics off.
Having an early 10 point lead, the Celtics looked like had the game in hand, but then the shots stopped falling. Shooting an abysmal 34% from the field and 17% from deep, the Celtics couldn’t buy a bucket. Watching their lead slowing disintegrate, they took a small 4 point lead into half. They needed to come out hot in the second and take the momentum back, but the King and his court were too much. Converting on every Celtic miscue, and just running away with the game. It just looked like the moment was just too big for them.
If you look at everything but shooting percentage, you would have thought the Celtics won this game. Outpacing the Cavs by a small margin in rebounds and assists, it was turnovers that is mind boggling. The Celtics only committed 5 turnovers, and still lost by 8 points, that’s how bad they were shooting. Tatum led the team with 24 points, while Horford, Brown and Smart all chipped in double figure point totals. It was just a moment of inexperience catching up with them.
Next season should be really fun with this group. This is nothing to hang their head about. They took the best player in the world to 7 games without their 2 stars, relying on rookies and 2nd year players. Getting Kyrie and Hayward back will be a huge boost, but may start creating difficulties. Rozier is good but not good enough to replace Kyrie, but Brown and Tatum have both proven they should start, but then what do you do with Hayward.
None and truly big enough to bump up and play the 4 full time, but they all deserve to be on the floor. I wouldn’t be surprised if they experiment with super small lineups next year, but also I wouldn’t be shocked if they decide to trade away someone to make more room in the rotation. Morris and Smart could be casualties of success.