What’s better than a Game 1 victory on the road? How about two wins in Boston and a 2-0 lead coming back home?
That’s the mindset of the Cavaliers, who hold a clear and present advantage entering Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals (8:30 p.m. TNT).
The Cavs humiliated the Celtics in Wednesday’s 117-104 opener. So what do they need to do for a repeat performance?
Well, for starters, they should stay on guard. They should keep an eye out for swinging elbows, hard fouls and maybe a few tough words.
“For them to come out swinging, playing scrappy like they do,” Cavs guard J.R. Smith told reporters of the Celtics.
It’s true that the Celtics are indeed fighting for their lives. Most teams that face LeBron James, at least in the East playoffs, often feel that way.
The man has made six straight appearances in the NBA Finals, seven overall. He’s 32 years old and better than ever — averaging 34.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists through nine playoff games.
A lot of scorers would kill for those numbers in points. A lot of centers would kill for those rebound numbers. A lot of point guards would love the same amount of assists.
James does it all, and the Celtics can do nothing. Except maybe fight.
Throw in the fact the Cavs also have the likes of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and even Tristan Thompson (20 points, 7-of-7 shooting in Game 1), and it’s highly likely the Celtics understand they won’t win by way of straight basketball.
So their only hope is to take the Cavs out of their game.
“We just got to expect that and understand there might be some dirty plays, might be some cheap shots coming from the other side, just because they are fighting for their lives,” Smith said.
But if the Cavs can escape unscathed, or at least not be baited into an evening of verbal volleying and trash talk, and if they can avoid confrontations and just play the game — well, carrying a 2-0 lead back home may not be far behind.
The Cavs are the first team in NBA history to start 9-0 in consecutive playoffs. They won the first 10 games last season. … This could be over quickly if the Cavs get something, anything from their bench. Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and Iman Shumpert combined to shoot 2-of-17 last game. … Also, Smith was just 1-of-2. … Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he wanted to get Love more involved for this series. That sure happened in Game 1, with Love erupting for 32 points. The next order of business may be getting Smith more engaged and looking to take some shots. … CBS Sports took a closer look at the Cavs’ excellent defense on Celtics star guard Isaiah Thomas. You can check it out here. … The Cavs frustrated Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan in the first two games of the previous series, and hope to irritate Thomas much the same way. … The philosophy being, if you remove the other team’s best player, you remove its heart. … The Cavs will again sport their navy jerseys. … FOX Sports Ohio will air pre- and postgame shows, as it is throughout the entire playoffs.