If the Boston Celtics had any hope of beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they needed to win Game 1. The game was in Boston, and the Cavs hadn’t played in nine days, meaning rust was a legitimate possibility.
Only it wasn’t.
The Cavs blitzed Boston on Wednesday, and the Celtics never recovered. Cleveland led 61-39 at halftime and won 117-104 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates.
“And it ain’t gonna get better,” NBA Radio host and Sporting News NBA writer Mitch Lawrence said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “(My series preview was) Celtics equal bug, Cavs equal windshield. That’s what this is. One team’s got talent, one team’s got depth, and one team’s got LeBron – and they ain’t wearing white (in Game 1).”
LeBron James and Kevin Love toyed with Boston, combining for 70 points on 23-of-40 (.575) shooting from the floor. James scored 38, and Love hit six threes.
“The only reason I gave the Celtics a little bit of hope today is the Cavs came in (having) nine days off,” Lawrence said. “But LeBron with nine days off is ridiculous. Boston has no one to match up with him – just like everyone else in the East. They’re too talented, too deep, too good – they know how to win, they’ve won before, and the Celtics are trying to figure it out. This whole narrative that the Celtics have closed the gap on the Cavaliers, as I’ve read by some people I respect, man, I’m telling you what: You got to take the needle out of your arm if you’re going to do that.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 17 points on 19 shots. He had 10 assists, but he’ll need to score 30+ just to give Boston a chance.
Instead, he was perhaps a little too focused on talking smack, which he did with Tristan Thompson, who has about a foot on him.
“You got to be tough if you’re anything under 5-10,” Lawrence said. “Allen Iverson was a tough SOB, we know that, and he could have brawled with anybody. The thing about Isaiah Thomas, it’s been an incredible playoffs considering what happened to his sister and all that he’s had to put up with, but when you build a team round a guy like that – unless it’s Allen Iverson, where are you going? That’s the hard thing. You’re playing LeBron James. Just in terms of talent, he’s the Celtics No. 1 guy. Your ceiling is a lot lower than LeBron’s ceiling. I know all the Celtic people are all excited about Markelle Fultz and this and that, but to me, they still lack big-time superstars.”
Game 2 is Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.