In this first-round series of the NBA playoffs, although they have great potential and they are well-coached, the Boston Celtics failed again to overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers, especially when Kyrie Irving and LeBron James stepped in to secure the Cavs’ final 28 points and a 99-91 victory.
Cleveland coach David Blatt said that the two players did what they had to do and scored all 24 points for the Cavs in the last quarter. James hit 30 points, seven assists and nine rebounds, while Irving scored 26 points, five rebounds and six assists. Both players were the offensive machine that kept scoring even when no body else from their team did, especially in the final 17 minutes.
Boston coach Brad Stevens, who criticized his team’s weak third quarter, defensive rebounding and lack of vigilance which allowed the Cavs to have huge scoring outbursts, said that the Celtics made James and Irving earn everything they got.
However, no matter how hard the Celtics struggled, there was no way to beat Cleveland especially against James and Irving’s team play. Moreover, LeBron played 158 playoff games so he currently holds more experience in the matchups than all Celtics players combined.
Coach Blatt praised James and called him a “great player” for imposing his will on the game and not being afraid to break out of the pack when going offensive. Blatt also said that James virtually reorganized the moment by creating a good offense both for his teammates and himself.
“[LeBron] got to the line. Made his free throws. Made big plays. Big plays at both ends,”
For James, it was his 69th playoff game in which he scored 30 points or more. He is currently listed on the seventh position on the all-time scoring list after passing Jerry West. He is expected to soon pass Karl Malone as well and earn the sixth place behind five other elite players of all times including Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan.
But James changed tactics since this postseason’s Game 1. In Game 1, he wanted to make sure that both Kevin Love and Irving had a successful playoff debut, while in Game 2 he planned to take over the defense line with help from Irving. And he succeeded that, too. In only two games, LeBron and Irving scored together 106 points of their team’s 212 points.
James lauded Irving for his determination. He described him as a very poised young man especially for the environment he is in. He also said that it was great to have such a player around.
On the other hand, James explained that he and Irving didn’t plan beforehand the two-man show. He said that it just happened as they were trying to gain a position that would secure the team’s success.
But relying on only two players for the win is not a secure recipe for success. If they really want to wrap up the series they will need to work more. For Game 3, they will have to travel to Boston. This will be the first playoff road game for at least four Cavs players including Love and Irving. So, LeBron already warned the rookies that the mistakes they made at home would cost them dear on the road.
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