This was a statement game for LeBron James. After being shut down by the young Boston Celtics defense in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, LBJ knew he had to come out and be the aggressor in Game 2.
He certainly did that by dropping 21 points in the first quarter.
It felt like with King James in the driver’s seat and controlling the game, the Cleveland Cavaliers were going to pull this one out in TD Garden to even up the series before heading back to The Land. Through the second quarter, the Cavs kept a hold of the double digit lead, but things changed right before halftime.
At the beginning of the game, Jayson Tatum couldn’t hit shots, Terry Rozier wasn’t too involved in the offense and it felt like they weren’t connecting on all cylinders. But like always, the C’s kept fighting and clawing back. They actually had the momentum going when it hit the half.
In the third quarter is when things fell apart for the Cavs.
Rozier and Tatum started making their shots. Al Horford kept pushing on the offensive end. Marcus Smart was grabbing every rebound, making plays happen and bringing the energy to fire the whole team up.
LeBron got hit with a shoulder to the head that kept him out for a few minutes as he went to go get checked in the locker room too.
It felt like the momentum changed around that point.
James wasn’t attacking like he was earlier in the game, the rest of the team couldn’t sink any shots and the Celtics lead kept increasing.
Tempers flared late in the fourth quarter when J.R. Smith pushed Horford in the back while he was going up for an alley-oop and went to the ground. Smart was not having any part of those dirty plays and immediately checked Smith. It was a “hold me back” moment, for sure, but Marcus looked like he was ready to hit him with the fade.
Ultimately, Smith received a Flagrant 1 foul for the play and a series of “Fuck you J.R.” chants from the crowd in attendance.
Jaylen Brown led all Boston scorers with 23 points and 7 rebounds, with the rest of the starters scoring in double figures for the game as well. Smart also had 11 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals off the bench as well.
LBJ had a triple double, Kevin Love scored 22 points and 15 rebounds, but everyone else was cold. The only other double digit scorer was Kyle Korver with 11 off the bench.
With Game 3 in Cleveland not until this Saturday, expect plenty of “The Cavs could get swept” hot takes for the next few days.