Dribbles: In this series, no one is beating Cavs

LeBron James looked rested and ready as the Cavaliers dumped the Celtics.
Sam Amico
Sam Amico

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Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 117-104 road win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday.

1. Well, that was easy. Home-court advantage, Cavs.

2. And it was pretty clear after the first quarter — the only team in this series that can possibly beat the Cavs is the Cavs. The Celtics sure ain’t gonna do it.

3. Translation: Bring on the Warriors.

4. There will be a whole lot written today about LeBron James, Kevin Love and the Cavaliers, and I won’t read anything other than what the other writers post on this very site. I mean, seriously. What else is there left to say?

5. LeBron just keeps being LeBron, as good as ever. And Love just played the playoff game of his life — right after everyone kept saying he needed to be better.

6. James’ final numbers: 38 points, nine rebounds, seven assists. He went 14-of-24 from the field and 9-of-11 on free throws.

7. Love’s final numbers: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 9-of-16 shooting and 6-of-9 on 3-pointers.

8. Or how about Tristan Thompson, man? He went for 20 points on 7-of-7 from the field. Yes, he made all seven shots! Yes, he played like a champion through and through — frustrating Celtics center Al Horford (11 points) and even stepping out on star guard Isaiah Thomas on occasion.

9. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue to reporters on Thompson: “Tristan was big. He’s our energy. He’s out motor.”

10. Overall, the Cavs did quite a number on Thomas, who scored a very ordinary 17 points and struggled to a 7-of-19 shooting night. Thomas is the Celtics’ heartbeat, and while he usually plays with great fire, he looked tentative for much of the game.

11. Lue wanted to make sure the Cavs didn’t fall for Thomas’ attempts to initiate contact and “force” defenders into committing silly fouls. Thomas fooled Kyrie Irving once (on a 3-pointer), but other than that, the Cavs stayed on their feet and stayed disciplined.

12. Irving scored 11 quiet points and missed all three of his threes. Yet the Cavs won in a blowout. So imagine what can still happen.

13. Also, J.R. Smith took just two shots and scored just two points in 24 minutes. So imagine what can still happen if Smith finally gets a little more involved on offense.

14. Oh, and the bench shot just 4 of 21. The biggest culprits were Deron Williams (o-of-5), and Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert (1-of-6 each). Shumpert did, however, make some nice plays defensively and stayed active. He just couldn’t make a shot.

15. These reasons and more are likely why LeBron told reporters, “I don’t even think we played that great tonight.”

16. Last time James said something like that was between Games 1 and 2 of the previous round against Toronto. It sounded silly, because the Cavs played so well in Game 1. Then they came out and played even better in Game 2.

17. Message: Look out below, Boston.

18. Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the Cavs: “This is the predicament they put you in.”

19. Right now, predicament seems like a nice word when it comes to the Celtics’ chances.

20. James has been the best in the league in scoring at the rim for some time, but he made it look easier than ever against the Celtics. They have no one who can stop him, and unless they somehow find somebody, this series will be over just as quickly as the others.

21. Now, the Celtics are a team with great pride. It’s hard to envision Thomas struggling through another night like this one. I suspect Game 2 will be considerably closer, and perhaps, a bit chippier. For the Celtics, it’s already a must-win. The Cavs are just that much better, and playing every bit as good as that team out West. And this team has LeBron.

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