The Boston Celtics put down a statement in the opening match of the Eastern Conference Finals, hammering the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Brad Stevens’ men blitzed LeBron James and company in the first quarter to take control of the contest. There was nothing the All-Star could do to stop their dominance as the home side romped to a 108-83 victory at the TD Garden.
The Celtics’ key players were on form as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum continued to display their potential with fine outings, while Al Horford was a fearsome presence on the court.
Marcus Morris offered a surprise contribution, notching 21 points, while guarding James. The Cavs’ offense was not able to keep pace with Boston throughout the evening, with Tyronn Lue opting to pull his starters with six minutes remaining in the match.
Boston will be desperate to capitalise on their home-court advantage to take a 2-0 lead to Cleveland. The franchise have an incredibly strong record after winning the opening two matches of their playoff series.
Therefore Stevens will have his side amped up for game two, expecting an emphatic response from LeBron, who was not on form in the opener. We’ll now break down game one and how each side can earn the victory in the second match of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics could not have wished for a better start to the series. They were on form from the off, taking the game to the Cavaliers. Stevens’ men scored 36 points in the first quarter, putting the visitors on the back foot. They maintained their high levels into the second quarter to boast a 26-point lead at the end of the first half.
From that position the home side were never going to relinquish their advantage. Cleveland put them under pressure in the third quarter, but the Celtics held firm before regaining their composure to comfortably see out the win.
Horford was the key man for Boston as he took the game by the scruff of the neck. He was deadly accurate from the field, making eight of his 10 two-point attempts, while he fired home two of his four three-pointers. The 30-year-old’s experience on the court will be vital for his youthful team-mates throughout the rest of the series. Should he continue to operate at such a high level it will be difficult for the Cavs’ offense to trouble Stevens’ side.
Brown and Tatum continued to be extremely impressive from distance. Both players are the future of the franchise and have taken on bigger roles than anticipated due to the injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Brown has taken the next step in his development and proved it by sinking almost every attempt from distance, notching 23 points.
Tatum used his physical presence to score 16 points, but Stevens will be hopeful that there is more to come from the rookie. Morris was a surprise after being added to the line up to limit LeBron. He outplayed the All-Star, limiting him to just 15 points. If he can maintain that standard, the Celtics could ease their way into the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers were far from their best and duly punished by the Celtics. They made a decent start in the opening minutes, scoring seven points. However, once the home side got a run going Lue’s men had no answer for them in and around the basket.
There was little urgency from Cleveland, playing the match too passively on the fringes which allowed Brown, Horford and Tatum to capitalise. Kevin Love led a revival in the third quarter as he was the only bright spot for the Cavs on a miserable afternoon for the franchise.
Cleveland have been accused of being a one-man team. The rest of the roster outside of Love did nothing to prove that it’s LeBron or bust for the team. Their star man was off colour, notching just 15 points at the TD Garden, failing to hit his usual high standards.
His shooting from distance was off, although the Celtics made it their priority to keep the ball out of his hands. Morris fared well in their duel, the 33-year-old is far too good to be held down for the entire series. However, the Cavs need him to fire in game two to avoid falling two matches behind.
JR Smith, Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson and George Hill need to improve. Smith played well during the series against the Raptors, while Korver has had his moments in the post-season. However, both men were terrible in the opener, combining for just nine points between them.
Smith made just two out of his nine field-goal attempts, while he failed to hit a three-pointer. That was the tale of the match for the Cavs, who need to regain their rhythm and accuracy around the net to get back into the contest.
The Celtics were firing on all cylinders and may have even surprised themselves by the ease of their victory. Horford and Brown were flawless, while Morris came to the fore in a way that the fringe players of Cleveland’s roster did not. However, Boston cannot expect the same level of play throughout the series as Horford and Brown were operating at their peaks, while Morris’ performance came from nowhere.
LeBron was held to under 20 points for the first time in the post-season this term expect that to change next time out as he may cut loose, shooting from deep. Although Smith and Korver were poor, they’re good enough to bounce back from their underwhelming displays. Cleveland can improve all over the court, while the Celtics may only see more from Tatum and Terry Rozier, who was quiet in game one after a fine playoff run.
The Cavs will be eyeing a fast start to try to reverse the momentum and if LeBron gets going early in the game he could deliver a performance of the ilk that saw him crush Boston during the regular season. Back him and Cleveland to issue a strong response to the threat of their Finals’ chances, with odds of 1.95Bet €100 to win €19519/20Bet £100 to win £195-105Bet $100 to win $1950.95Bet HK$100 to win HK$195-1.05Bet Rp100 to win Rp1950.9500Bet RM100 to win RM195 with BetOnline, while take the +1 spread at 1.91Bet €100 to win €19191/100Bet £100 to win £191-110Bet $100 to win $1910.91Bet HK$100 to win HK$191-1.10Bet Rp100 to win Rp1910.9100Bet RM100 to win RM191 .
Cleveland Cavaliers To Beat Boston Celtics Game Two
Tuesday 15th May 2018 20:30 ET (Wednesday 16th May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: 1.95Bet €100 to win €19519/20Bet £100 to win £195-105Bet $100 to win $1950.95Bet HK$100 to win HK$195-1.05Bet Rp100 to win Rp1950.9500Bet RM100 to win RM195
Take +1 Spread Cleveland Cavaliers
Tuesday 15th May 2018 20:30 ET (Wednesday 16th May 2018 01:30 BST)
Odds: 1.91Bet €100 to win €19191/100Bet £100 to win £191-110Bet $100 to win $1910.91Bet HK$100 to win HK$191-1.10Bet Rp100 to win Rp1910.9100Bet RM100 to win RM191
- Al Horford
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- LeBron James