Celtics Break LeBron and the Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals

This is a 7 game series and we’ve seen LeBron take one on the chin before coming back to lay waste to his opposition but last night was the absolute best case scenario for the Celtics who blew out the Cavs 108-83. They looked younger, quicker, more athletic, deeper, and overall just more invested in the game than LeBron and his flunkies.

When LeBron says he has “zero concern” over getting curb stomped in Game 1 though I genuinely believe him. He probably does have zero concern. Thats the problem. The C’s got up early and never looked back. This Cavs team is not built to play from behind, especially if LeBron isn’t scoring 40 points a game. He’s *averaging* 32.7 pts per game in the playoffs and the Cavs need him to hit and exceed those averages every single night if they’re going to beat the C’s. Do I think LeBron can do that 4 out of the next 6 games? Sure. Do I think he will? I doubt it. I think the Celtics will tax him mentally as they throw wave after wave of defenders at him and make him work, really work, to get upwards of 30 points a night. Not to mention he now has to play defense.

This quote from Jaylen Brown over the weekend was illuminating in the way they all view LeBron.

“You’ve got to make him work on both sides of the ball. Usually he’s guarding the least-offensive threat on the floor, so if he’s guarding me, I’m going to make him pay.”

Now unless Aaron Baynes is on the floor, take your pick LeBron and good luck. Despite all the injuries to this Celtics team they are so deep in terms of scoring threats. If he wants to D up Jaylen Brown well then he’s going to have to chase a 21-year old dude around all game. Same with a 20 year old Jayson Tatum. Both those guys are young, long, athletic and can shoot. Horford’s another All-Star so thats more work. Marcus Smart is smaller, but he’s a goddamn pain in the ass. There’s no weak link LeBron can just lean on to get some rest while playing D. This isn’t last year’s team that stood around and waited for Isaiah Thomas to score on every possession.

Now with all that being said, you know LeBron is going to come out SWINGING on Tuesday night. He wants to make a statement, which he has done so many times before. That is why when he checks himself out of a blowout with several minutes remaining nobody really bats an eye because he is great at taking the long view in a series. His team did not have it, hell they were 0-12 from 3 point land in the first half and shot 15% from 3 for the game. They only shot 36% overall. Meanwhile the Celtics were on fire shooting 36% from 3 and 51% overall for the game.

Water tends to find its level so the Celtics will shoot worse and the Cavs will shoot better. LeBron looks around and sees that and calls it an early night because he’s 33 and there’s no reason for him to play 48 minutes in a blowout when he can just save his energy to come out strong in Game 2.

But, if the Celtics can withstand that early attack from LeBron, throw Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye at him and get him to struggle even a little bit then they are in the money. If LeBron senses he’ll have to win the entire series on his own he may just shut it down. We’ve seen it before.

Guerschon Yabusele even got 4 minutes in this game. The Dancing Bear is basically a human victory cigar for the Celtics as we got Gino Time in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Insane.

With that we did also see some incredible flip flopping from the broadcast, most notably Jeff Van Gundy. After a Cavs loss to the Celtics in the regular season Van Gundy said the Cavs were still by far the better team and that was BEFORE Kyrie got hurt. Now the C’s get a big win in Game 1 and Van Gundy is rewriting his own history. Where is Old Takes Exposed when you need them?

We could potentially see the Celtics, a completely different Celtics roster and coach, chase LeBron James out of Cleveland for the second time in his career. In 2010 the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen frustrated LeBron so bad that he split for Miami just to get reinforcements. We could see that again here as LeBron will almost certainly opt out and enter free agency this offseason.

Before yesterday’s game I said my head tells me Cavs in 6, but my heart says Celtics in 7. I think if the Celtics are going to win this series its going to take 7 games, regardless of the results from Game 1. We’ve seen a young, upcoming dynastic team knock off the aging veteran champions before and it hurt like a bitch to watch. It would be poetic to see the same exact story unfold with the roles reversed on LeBron James now.

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