Here’s what happened on day 29 of the 2017 NBA Playoffs:
CLE 117 – BOS 104, CLE leads series 1-0
No such thing as rust for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite an extended break between the conference semifinals and conference finals, the defending champions leapt into action against the Boston Celtics, pulling off a wire-to-wire win against the East’s top seeded team, who are just coming off a seven-game series against the Washington Wizards.
Cleveland led by as much as 28 points, and led by as much as 13 points in the first period, the last coming with 20.3 seconds left, 30-17, before rookie Jaylen Brown nibbled at the deficit to make it 30-19 after the initial 12 minutes.
A Kevin Love triple off a second-chance opportunity gave Cleveland their first 20+ point lead, 46-25, 5:43 left in the first half. A turnaround fadeaway banker by LeBron James got it to 26, 57-31, but Isaiah Thomas scored five to end the second quarter, making it 61-39.
Love continued to wax hot from the field, and his back-to-back three-pointers made it 88-60 at the 5:05 mark of the third. A mini-run by Boston gave them some momentum heading into the final quarter though, as Al Horford and Marcus Smart combined to make it a 17-point affair, 92-75.
Unfortunately for the home team, they couldn’t sustain their run against the Cavaliers offense. James answered a Jae Crowder triple with one of his own for a 21-point lead, 109-88, 5:21 still to play. Gerald Green and Horford connected as well from deep, slicing their deficit to 16. However, after James missed from beyond the arc, two attempts at a triple by the white-and-green failed to connect, and despite grabbing the offensive rebound, Horford threw the ball away, and the Celtics were forced to foul James in transition. After hitting the first charity, both teams subbed out their starters, with this game in the bag for the Cavaliers.
James had a dominant display with 38 points on 14-of-24 shooting, plus nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. The only downside to his game today was a 1-of-6 showing from downtown.
Kevin Love had his best game in this postseason yet with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Tristan Thompson had a 20-point, nine-rebound outing, while Kyrie Irving contributed 11 markers on as many attempts, plus six dimes.
The Celtics drew 21 points from both Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley. Isaiah Thomas needed 19 shots to get 17 points, though he handed out 10 assists. Gerald Green and Jaylen Brown logged 11 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench.
The Cavaliers shot 28-of-35 from the stripe, compared to just 10-of-18 for the Celtics.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images