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NBA East Finals -- Celtics versus Cavs will not disappoint


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- The opening game of a seven-game duel doesn't define a series, but it sets a tone. In Game 1 at least, the Boston Celtics proved to be the better and deeper team​ by soundly beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 108-83.

​In front of a capacity home crowd of 18,624 at the TD Garden, the Celtics relentlessly attacked the hoop and scored early and often After just one quarter of play, they buried the Cavs under the pile of a 36-18 avalanche, thanks to a 64 percent shooting accuracy. And while Boston's offense was clicking, their smothering defense held Cleveland to a mere 32 percent from the field. On the road, in the crucible of these playoffs. the Cavaliers were unable to dig out of an early 18-point hole

​Game 2 is today at the TD Garden, and while LeBron James has expressed "zero" concerns about the series' outcome, many eyes will remain glued at his match-up with Marcus Morris. a 6-foot-9, 235-pound former Kansas Jayhawk who held King James to a modest 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting. Morris made the headlines prior to Game 1 by declaring that he is the best player in the league (behind San Antonio Spur Kawhi Leonard) to guard LeBron. With the help of his teammates, because it takes a village to tame a beast, Marcus has delivered on a promise.

But Game 2 is another story.

​The fact that LeBron will bounce back is a realistic expectation. In fact, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens opined that his team is forecasting a heavyweight punch in Game 2.

But for the Cavs to even the series, they need more help besides Kevin Love, who chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds in the Game 1 loss. Cleveland will need more from George Hill and Kyle Korver who only had five points each, and more from J.R. Smith, who missed seven of nine shots on the way to four points. And coach Tyronn Lue needs a shot maker or two, the kind he could find in that miserable Game 1 defeat.

The Cavs showed signs of life by going on a 12-3 run that sliced a 28-point deficit down to 14 to start the fourth quarter, but the Celtics' methodical offense quickly built the advantage back up to 21 and that was all she wrote for Cleveland. In the end, there was just too much Celtic firepower: Jaylen Brown sank three 3s and had 23 points. Morris tallied 21 and 10 boards. Al Horford had 20 and the high-leaping Jayson Tatum added 16.

Given up for dead after losing Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to season-ending injuries, the Celtics continue to exceed expectations, resuscitating the season the same efficient way they recycle possessions. After surviving the testy Milwaukee Bucks in seven games they quickly dispatched the much-hyped Philadelphia 76ers in five. And here they are now, three wins away from a place in the 2018 NBA Finals.

But Boston beware. LeBron is notorious for bouncing back in impressive fashion, like dropping 45 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in Game 7 against the shell-shocked Pacers just a couple weeks ago. So expect a hungry, tenacious Cavaliers team in Game 2.

This series will not disappoint..

​caption - LeBron James had a rough time escaping the defensive clutches of Marcus Morris and the Celtics in Game 1. LeBron only had a tepid 15 points in his team's blowout loss. Will Game 2 follow the same script? ​


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Japheth Bandi.


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