LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers already forcing Boston Celtics into must-win situation in Game 2 of Eastern Conference finals
BOSTON — LeBron James did pretty much whatever he wanted to against the Celtics in the Cavaliers’ dominating win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
He was efficient, scoring from the outside, rolling downhill and getting to the rim at will, passing to teammates and locking down Boston’s scorers when called upon.
With home-court advantage gone, the Celtics face a virtual must-win Game 2 tonight. Boston must find a way to slow down James while not getting eaten up by a supporting cast, which other than Kevin Love’s big game, didn’t produce at its usual high rate.
Oh, and there’s extra motivation for Cleveland — now 9-0 in these playoffs — which could earn another long rest if it makes quick work of the Celtics.
But here’s the rub for top-seeded Boston tonight: James said he wasn’t even playing at peak condition after Cleveland’s 10-day layoff between rounds.
“I felt OK last night,” James said Thursday. “I knew I wouldn’t feel that great after the game, and I don’t feel that great right now. … But I should be much better (today).”
Better than 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists? Good luck with that Boston.
Still, James said the Cavs are mentally preparing for the Celtics’ best shot in Game 2.
“There’s going to be some adjustments made from both sides. We have to be ready for it,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t know the exact adjustments, but we know they’re going to make adjustments. That’s what good teams do, and we have to be ready for whatever they bring to the table.”
Most of the damage in Game 1 was done by only two players — James and Love. Kyrie Irving had just 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
A loss Friday would also leave Boston with the daunting proposition of having to win four out of five games to take the series — nearly impossible against a team that since James returned to Cleveland in 2014-15 has a 33-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents.