Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) at Boston Celtics (0-1)
Friday, May, 19, 2017
8:30 PM ET
Eastern Conference Finals Game #2
Playoff Game #15, Home Game #9
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WTAM 1100
Referees: Scott Foster, Tony Brothers, Ron Garretson
After a tough loss in game 1 to the Cavaliers, the Celtics have to go back to the drawing board and figure a way to stop, or at least slow down, LeBron James without leaving his teammates open to hit three pointers.
The Celtics also have to be more focused and as Danny said, they need more compete. They let the Cavaliers' domination at the beginning get them down and they weren't as aggressive as they could be. However, they started to show some spunk and go at the Cavs in the 4th quarter. They need to carry that over to Game 2 and hit them right from the start.
The Cavs went on an 18-6 run in the 2nd quarter to take a 61-39 lead at halftime. The Celtics showed more of the "compete" that Ainge talked about in the second half, outscoring the Cavs 65-56, but couldn't make up the big gap. Brad Stevens is opting to start Gerald Green in place of Amir Johnson once again in this game. The one bright spot in the first game was the play of Jaylen Brown. We may see more of Brown in this game, whether he starts of comes off the bench.
The Celtics have no reported injuries although Brad Stevens hinted that Isaiah has been playing through pain of some type, possibly in his mouth from the injury in game 1 against the Wizards. Avery Bradley has also been playing through hip pointers on both sides. . The Cavs have Edy Tavares out with a hand injury. Tavares was signed at the end of the season as bench insurance after Andrew Bogut was injured in his first game with the Cavs.
PG: Isaiah Thomas ........................................ SG: Avery Bradley
C: Al Horford
SF: Gerald Green ............................................ PF: Jae Crowder
PG: Kyrie Irving ................ SG: JR Smith
C: Tristan Thompson
SF: LeBron James................. PF: Kevin Love
Edy Tavares (hand) out
Jae Crowder vs LeBron James
James averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists and shooting 54.8% from the field in the regular season. Playoff LeBron is definitely a thing because he has upped his averages to 34.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 7.1 assists for the playoffs. In the first game he had 38 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, while shooting 58% from the field. Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Kelly Olynyk all spent time along with Jae trying to slow him down, but to no avail. Slowing him down will be a key in this game.
Amir Johnson vs Kevin Love
The Celtics have to also find a way to slow down Kevin Love. Love finished Game 1 with 32 points and 12 rebounds on 56% shooting. He also shot 67% on 3 pointers. Most of the three pointers that he took were open so the Celtics need to find a way to stay with him especially beyond the arc.
Al Horford vs Tristan Thompson
Thompson gave the Celtics problems all night. He was 7-7 from the floor for 20 points to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. He also took 10 free throws. Al has to stay with him and especially keep him off the boards and out of the paint.
Keys to the Game
Defense Defense Defense!! Defense is key to winning every game. The Celtics must concentrate on getting stops and keeping the Cavaliers from scoring at will. The Cavs are averaging 114.5 points per game in the playoffs and they lead the playoffs with 14.4 3-pointers per game on 43.4% shooting from beyond the arc. The Celtics must play lock down defense and keep the hot shooting Cavs from scoring at will.
Rebound - The Celtics can't score if they don't have the ball. They must crash the boards as a team to prevent the Cavs from getting second chance and fast break points. They also need to rebound to give themselves extra possessions and to fuel their running game. The Cavs are averaging 41.4 rebounds to 38.3 rebounds for the Celtics in the playoffs. The Celtics must rebound as a team with every player crashing the boards.
Run, Run, Run - The Celtics need to run on every possession in order to get some easy points before the Cavs defense sets up. When the Celtics walk the ball up and slow the game down they struggle. They have to run and they have to move the ball with crisp passes. Ball movement and energy will be important for the Celtics especially from the start.
Be Aggressive - The Celtics must be the more aggressive team. They have to beat the Cavs to every loose ball and win the 50/50 plays. They have to be aggressive on the boards and in driving into the paint and to the basket. They have to be the team that works harder and the team that wants it more. The Cavs may have more stars, but the Celtics have to be the team that wins by playing harder. As Danny said after Game 1, they need more compete.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics gave up an 18-6 run in the second quarter of Game 1. Just as in the losses to the Wizards, even though they played better and even outscored them in the 2nd half, they couldn't catch up. The Celtics need to avoid allowing the Cavs to go on a big run at any point. They need to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Home Court - The Celtics will be playing at home and that has to give them a boost to have the crowd behind them. In spite of being down big in Game 1, the crowd stuck with the team and cheered them on. The Celtics have to take advantage of being at home and the crowd needs to be loud and give their team energy once again.
Officiating - As always, the officiating is an x-factor. Every crew officiates differently and teams never know what to expect. Sometimes they let them play and other times they call a foul on every possession. Some games they call evenly and others they favor one team or the other. It's like Forrest Gump's box of chocolate... you never know what you are going to get. In most games against the Cavs, the Cavs seem to get the benefit of way too many calls. The Celtics must play through it and not let the officials take them out of the game if that happens.
Scott Foster as lead referee is worrisome. He was voted the worst ref in the league by players and coaches in a survey done by the LA Times. Foster's former close friend, Tim Donaghy, described Foster as a company man who will do what is asked of him to keep his seniority among refs. Foster was part of the 2010 Finals game 7 officiating crew that called the final quarter completely different than the first 3 quarters and very one sided for the Lakers with 21 free throws for the Lakers and 6 for the Celtics in the final 12 minutes.
Tony Brothers is one of those referees that make you cringe when you see his name for any given game. Most fans will tell you that he doesn't like their team because there is almost always at least one call in every game that makes you scratch your head and wonder what he is doing. . He called Game 6 vs the Wizards in this year's playoffs. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Brothers. His home W/L record this season is 48-22.
Ron Garretson isn't usually noticeably bad in most games he calls. He officiated Game 4 vs the Wizards. His home W/L record this season is 33-29. The Celtics are just 2-8 in their last 10 games with Garretson while the Cavs are 7-3 in their last 10.