The Celtics absolutely destroyed Cleveland in game 1 and kind of surprised us all. I was at the game and the energy against Lebron and for Boston was electric. The crowd doesn’t affect Lebron James at this point, but it sure as hell affects the other guys. Game 2 needs to be even louder to continue to mess with their role players. Outside of Lebron and Love, no Cleveland starter scored more than 5 points. The mix of the crowd and defensive pressure is what leads to Boston success.
What to Expect from Cleveland
The first and obvious one is that Lebron James is not gonna drop only 15 points again. He won’t be dropping less than 20 points in a game for the rest of this series. Even if he’s defended well, he’s gonna get his buckets. I assume he’ll be way more aggressive and get Morris and Ojeleye into foul trouble early. Lebron’s big mistake in game 1 was not capitalizing on Morris getting 2 early fouls in the first quarter. Since the rest of his team kinda sucks, it’s all on Lebron.
Expect some lineup changes as well. Game 1’s starting lineup clearly didn’t work out in the Cavs favor. Starting Tristan Thompson would be smart for the Cavs as he would cause the Celtics to either start Baynes or bring him in early. Sadly, That means Morris aka “The Lebron Stopper” would have to come off the bench. Cleveland shouldn’t start both Smith and Korver together either. Korver is an incredible liability on defense and would benefit from coming off of the bench. Jeff Green should play more and earlier rather than Korver for defensive purposes. Green also had the best offensive rating for the Cavs in game 1 as extra motivation to play him more.
Should the Cavs Worry if they Lose Game 2?
Rarely have we ever seen a Lebron James led team go down 0-2 in a playoff series. It isn’t something he’d like to see. But going down 0-2 heading back home is immensely better than going down 0-2 and then heading out on the road. The Celtics have not played particularly well on the road this postseason either. I’m pretty sure a mix of Lebron James and the Cleveland crowd could get into the young Celtics players heads. Outside of Lebron James, everybody else should worry about an 0-2 start. He’s gonna be able to keep a calm head, but those players off the bench who haven’t been here before might not be able to handle it. Lebron has a whole lot of carrying to do either way.
Why do the Celtics NEED to Win Game 2?
Many are even shocked the Celtics won game 1 at home. Winning 2 in a row to Lebron seems super difficult, and it could be. If the Celtics stick to a similar defensive scheme as they did in game 1, the game will be close. The need to keep locking down the perimeter and any penetration. The Celtics cannot afford a loss here. Losing game 2 gives the Cavs insane momentum going back home for 2 games. Lebron James and momentum is a deadly combo. The momentum would give the Kyle Korvers and JR Smiths of the world confidence to perform better. Boston does not want the background players as well as Lebron James playing well. To win this series, the Celtics need to win game 2 of this Eastern Conference Finals.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)