LeBron James, Cavaliers have Celtics in must-win jam

Doug Mendoza
May 19, 2017

Game 2 is Friday night at TD Garden before the series shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4. Isaiah Thomas had 17 points. During these playoffs, James is regularly stuffing the stat sheet: In Cleveland's nine postseason games, James is averaging 34.8 points in 42.4 minutes, along with 7.1 assists and 9.0 boards.

A loss Friday would also leave Boston with the daunting proposition of having to win four out of five games to take the series - a nearly impossible task against a team that since James returned to Cleveland in 2014-15 has a 33-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents.

LeBron James, looking to advance to his seventh straight NBA Finals, led the Cavs with 38 points (15 in the fourth quarter), his seventh consecutive 30-point game.

"You can't dig yourself in a big hole like that against them", Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

The Cavs toyed with the Celtics from the start, building a 26-point lead in the first half and expanding it to 28 in the third quarter before the Celtics cut it down to 17 at the end of the quarter. "And that's the reason why we're riding him so much", Lue said.

And if the Celtics don't play any better than they did in the first half of the opener, that could be it. "I mean, I've seen it all.I've just got to be more aggressive, make plays, make shots, and go from there".

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Coming off a game seven victory over Washington on Monday night, Boston missed 11 of its first 14 shots.

"We've just got to be more in tune as a group", Thomas said.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the Celtics with 21 points each. The hit us first. "Whatever happened in the past is in the past", Thompson told ESPN after finishing with a career-playoff-high 20 points on 7-for-7 shooting, nine rebounds and two steals.

Things got a little testy in the third quarter when Boston's Marcus Smart and Cleveland's Thompson got nose-to-nose and had to be separated by referees.

Still, James said the Cavs are mentally preparing for the Celtics' best shot in Game 2.

The win was the Cavaliers' 12th in a row in the playoffs (one shy of matching the National Basketball Association record, set by the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers), dating back to last year's finals, while the Celtics' five-game home playoff winning streak was stopped. They have already steamrolled their way into the Eastern Conference finals by beating the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors, and they did this without dropping a single game.

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