The Celtics were always underdogs in this series. They fought long and hard but could not steal a win against the vastly more talented Cavs.
The Cavs came out and got two quick offensive rebounds that led to 5 quick points. Brad Stevens called a timeout and emphatically called for his team to stop allowing that. I'm paraphrasing, but he said something along the lines of "I don't care what else happens, that stops." Well, the Cavs got a few more offensive rebounds, and did just about everything else they wanted as well.
They built up a big lead by executing their gameplan to perfection. Defensively, they swiped at every basketball in the paint, getting lots of deflections and blocks. Offensively they hit their offensive shots and got into the paint for buckets.
For their part the Celtics were unable to get anything going in the paint and cold from outside for most of the game. Once again Isaiah Thomas couldn't hit a shot early on, and his scoring was sorely missed.
Somewhere along the way things got very chippy too. Hard fouls were being committed on both sides. The first victim was Kevin Love who got locked up with Kelly Olynyk and appeared to separate his shoulder. Later Kendrick Perkins committed an illegal screen and shoved Jae Crowder to the ground, which Jae didn't take too kindly to and led to double technicals. Later J.R. Smith just blatantly backhanded Jae Crowder across the face. Crowder sprained his knee in the process and left the game. In short, it wasn't exactly a pretty game.
The Celtics did make several of their patented never-say-die runs in the 2nd half. They fought right down to the final buzzer. But ultimately the Cavs were too much for the Celtics. Not just for this game obviously, but for the whole series. Cleveland, by virtue of their talent level, is simply on another plane right now.
I saw some people on social media bemoaning the fact that the Celtics fought to get into the playoffs "for nothing." As I've repeated often in this space, I completely reject that notion. This experience has taught our young guys a ton of lessons that they can't learn without experiencing it for themselves. Sure, several of them won't be here next year, but many will. As will the coach, who's learning his own lessons with the experience. This was the next step in the progression of this team and I firmly believe it was a valuable one.
Still, at the end of the day, the Celtics lost. In fact, they got swept by a former rival. That never doesn't sting. This was somewhat expected but still is not the way I wanted to end the season.
Now we move on to the offseason, where things could really get interesting.