A loss Friday would also leave Boston with the daunting proposition of having to win four out of five games to take the series - a almost impossible task against a team that since James returned to Cleveland in 2014-15 has a 33-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference foes.
He's averaging 34.7 points per game in the Playoffs.
It's hard to even believe the Celtics are the No. 1 seed in the East, because while it was only one game, the Cavs are playing on a much higher level. The only other player who has 30 or more isolations in the postseason who is scoring more points per possession and scoring more frequently is Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, who is now out of the playoffs.
Boston's halftime deficit was the most Boston had trailed at home in franchise history.
"I felt like everybody was moving the ball, passing the ball well", said Love, who hit six 3-pointers. They don't have a defender with the size and athletic ability to keep up.More news: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posts video of Harvard acceptance in 2002
Jaylen Brown looked comfortable tonight, and Gerald Green accomplished some productive basketball tasks, but neither of them solve the Celtics' biggest problem, which is that LeBron James is a cyborg god from space and Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson control all airspace in the key.
James put the final touches to his opponents and dropped 13 points in the final quarter.
Smart and Thompson were called for a double foul on the play, but got tangled again a few minutes later. As a 22-year-old, James dragged a Cavaliers team that started - get this - Sasha Pavlovic and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson to an NBA Finals only to be swept by the Spurs. He continued his dynamic playoff run with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a wire-to-wire victory.
Kevin Love, looking like the Kevin Love from his Minnesota days, fired in a career-playoff-high 32 points, including four 3-pointers in the third quarter, and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jae Crowder was 4-of-6. "So we just take what the defense gives us, and that's how we try to play". James was hijacking Cleveland's offense, pounding the ball into the floor and settling for bad shots.
Coach Brad Stevens tried to make adjustments to slow the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night and nothing worked. "We missed some makeable opportunities".More news: New Video Shows Erdogan Watching Washington Brawl
Said Brown: "We've got to have each other's backs a little more".
The Celtics got a good idea of what kind of monster this Cavaliers team is and any kind of standard they may have been holding before will be drastically different now. "He might've been able to pull that off in Cleveland five years ago, but this 30-year-old LeBron doesn't have the athleticism to just power through guys, turn that corner, and get up". Kelly Olynk, who was the Celtics star in the Game 7 win over the Wizards with 26 points was held to two points. When going up 1-0, the Cavs have a 17-1 series record.
James and Love had stellar performances, but it's clear where the Cavaliers can improve-even though they won by double-digits. Reliance on three-point shooting failed them in the first half as they went just 2 of 16 from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers now take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Granted, some of those games also came in the Finals, against an excellent Golden State team, but the difference in efficiency is eye-popping, nonetheless.More news: Trump says special counsel appointment "hurts our country terribly"
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