Cleveland Cavaliers 94
Boston Celtics 107
Celtics lead series, 2-0
To say that Tuesday night’s loss in Game 2 was an embarrassing one for the Cleveland Cavaliers would probably be an understatement. They were not only outcoached and outworked, but it was clear that the Boston Celtics’ youth just wanted it more.
Now, the wine and gold are in a 2-0 hole and must win the next two games in Cleveland to pretty much have any shot of coming back in the best-of-seven series. Maybe, just maybe, the home crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena will be exactly what the Cavs need in order to help themselves out. Then again, if they give the effort they did Tuesday night, it doesn’t matter where the game is.
42/10/12 – There were only a few positives aspects from this game, but LeBron James was definitely one of them. He scored early and often, notching 21 points in the first quarter, but his 42 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, and one block just weren’t good enough. His two biggest downfalls in his column were his inability to make free throws (5-of-10 from the line) and six turnovers. Other than that, No. 23 played very well, knocking down 16-of-29 from the field and 5-of-11 from three-point range. You can’t ask for much more than that from James.
22/15 – Kevin Love may not have played his best game, but his 22 points and 15 rebounds can’t go unnoticed either. The big man was 9-of-18 from the floor as well. It may have been the quietest 22 and 15 game I’ve ever seen, honestly.
0 – If you’re reading this and watch the game on your couch, you scored as many points as JR Smith did in Game 2. He had just three rebounds and one assist while shooting an imperfect 0-for-7 from the floor and accumulating an embarrassing Flagrant 1 late in the game after pushing Al Horford in the back when the big man went up for an alley oop. It was a night to forget for the sharpshooter and he will need to play much better moving forward.
3 – With Smith totaling zero points, the Cavs’ backcourt combined to have just three points, with George Hill making a field goal and one free throw. Compare that to the Celtics’ backcourt of Terry Rozier (18 points) and Jaylen Brown (23) and Cleveland’s guards were dominated offensively.
Minus-17 – Jeff Green was one of a handful of Cavaliers who struggled Tuesday night. His 28 minutes led the bench unit, but he totaled just six points, two rebounds, and one assist while notching a team-worst minus-17 in those minutes.
21 – While Green struggled in his 28 minutes, Kyle Korver, who had a hot hand early and often, had just 21 minutes off the bench. His 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting were a much-needed spark, but just one that seemed as though the Cavs needed much more of.
2 – Rodney Hood continued to struggle, much like he has for the majority of the postseason. His two points on 1-of-2 shooting in 11 minutes is something that he must improve on going forward, especially with the way he has played all throughout the playoffs.
0 – Outside of Ante Zizic, who hasn’t played any significant minutes so far this postseason, Jordan Clarkson was the only active player who didn’t see the floor in Game 2. He’s been struggling, but that was definitely a surprise, especially with the Cavs struggling as much as they were in the second half of Game 2.
39 – After securing a 55-48 halftime lead, the Cavs clearly didn’t make many halftime adjustments while Brad Stevens’ Celtics seem to do everything right following halftime. Cleveland had just 39 second-half points in the loss. They allowed Boston to score 59 points in the final 24 minutes.
71-47 – It’s not the reason why they lost, but James clearly wasn’t the same player after getting hit in the head and neck by Jayson Tatum’s shoulder late in the second quarter. The Cavs held a 47-36 when it happened with just under four minutes left in the half. Following that hit that forced No. 23 to go to the locker room while looking dazed, the wine and gold were outscored, 71-47, the rest of the game.
58.8 – While James’ 5-of-10 mark sure didn’t help, the Cavs hit just 10-of-17 free throws in Game 2. That must improve going forward. As a team, they should shoot around 75 percent from the free-throw stripe.
7 – Although it seems as though the Cavs are done, they aren’t, luckily. There’s a reason why it’s a best-of-seven series. There’s a reason why both teams get home games. Cleveland may have lost both games in Boston to start the series, but they now return to the shores of Lake Erie for Games 3 and 4. If the Cavaliers can win the next two, it will make for an interesting series, one that will essentially be a best-of-three with Boston having two home games.
Toughness – This isn’t a number, but through two games, Boston has just played so much tougher than Cleveland. It’s almost like the Celtics are the older, more experienced team that is just trying to get in the wine and gold’s head at this point.
Heart and effort – Just like the above, this isn’t a number either. A team as experienced as the Cavs should never allow a team to outplay or outwork them. That’s one of the few reasons why Boston was able to take Game 2 Tuesday night. The young, energized Celtics just wanted it more, and that was clear.