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Boston pushes pace in blowout win: 10 Takeaways from Celtics/Cavaliers

The Celtics never trailed and led by as many as 29 in the dominant victory

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

1. The Celtics came out on the attack against the Cavaliers. The strategy was sound against Cleveland’s 28th ranked defense, and Boston never trailed in their second straight wire-to-wire victory. Jaylen Brown was a big part of the early offensive success, as he repeatedly got to the basket, as he does here on this coast-to-coast finish:

Brown rebounds and turns on the jets when he sees it is just him and Tristan Thompson. This is Brown using his athleticism wisely, but under control, to create scoring for the Celtics.

2. When it wasn’t individuals off and running, Boston was doing it as a team. This play starts with a monster block by Daniel Theis (who was again solid with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting and three blocks), then Brown finds the streaking Gordon Hayward with a no-look pass for the layup:

This was the best pass of Brown’s career to date, and that’s really saying something with a couple of other beauties he’s thrown this year.

3. As the above clip shows, Gordon Hayward made his return to the lineup. It happened on the short end of his injury timeline at about four weeks. Hayward has a plate and screws in his left hand, but there is no further damage that he can do to the hand. Once he went through a practice and shootaround, it was determined Hayward was ready to go. And he looked like he never missed any time at all. On this play Hayward gets in the paint against Kevin Love and finishes his signature fadeaway jumper:

4. Then Hayward saved this play with a hustle offensive rebound, which led to Jayson Tatum finding Enes Kanter for the easy layup:

5. Boston was up by 13 points at the half, despite some really sloppy basketball. The Celtics turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and allowed Cleveland to snag eight offensive rebounds. As they always seem to, Boston struggled to keep Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass. That’s kind of a known issue to work around. The turnovers were just careless and lazy basketball, and they were clearly far more vexing of an issue for Brad Stevens.

6. To open the second half, the Celtics went to a really simple play, and it’s one they’ve been incorporating more and more. Because Boston plays three similarly-sized guys in Brown, Hayward and Tatum, one of them almost always has a mismatch. Either they’ve got a big they can drive, or a small they can post. In this case, the Celtics go to Tatum in the post. It’s a look they’ve started using a few times a game and this time around, it ends in a layup:

7. This play must have made Tommy Heinsohn giddy with delight. First, Tatum fires it ahead to Kemba Walker, as Heinsohn constantly cajoles the Celtics to do. Then Walker drives the ball, kicks to Hayward who swings it to the trailing Tatum for the triple:

Boston is very fast with their regular guys out there. Pushing the ball like this makes them very hard to defend in the halfcourt. It’s not about pushing pace just to push pace, but pushing it wisely, where and when it makes sense.

8. Hayward and Grant Williams work a different sort of give-and-go here, but it ends up in a nice layup for Hayward. And again, it comes from pushing the ball up the floor. With a couple of good defensive teams on tap in Indiana and Philadelphia later this week, look for Boston to push the ball to create easy offense before they can get set in the halfcourt.

9. It finally happened! Grant Williams made a three-pointer! After going 0-for-25 to start his career, Williams confidently went up and drilled this one. Let’s hope it’s just the first of many for the Celtics rookie.

10. Boston put it on cruise control a little early. After going up by as many as 29 points, the Celtics let the Cavaliers cut the lead to just 13 points with around five minutes to go. Then Kemba Walker had enough and hit three straight three-pointers to push the lead back to 20 points and put Cleveland away for the night. Coffee is for closers. Kemba gets coffee.

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