CLEVELAND -- For the first time since the 2015 East Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers will begin an Eastern Conference playoff series away from Quicken Loans Arena.
After losing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference during the final week of the regular season, the Cavaliers will take to the road against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden for the first two games of the best-of-seven series.
“When you go on the road and it’s your first time playing them in the series, I think you get a chance to feel a team out and how they play and what their adjustments are for you, and you get a chance to kind of learn that on their floor, where the pressure is on them because they have to play well at home,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.
“You kind of get a chance to learn what they’re doing on their floor. They have to take care of home court, and now, when you’re coming home for two games and know what they’re doing, now, you can adjust. It makes it somewhat easier, but that’s kind of the advantage and the disadvantage of the two.”
After watching the Celtics battle their way to a Game 7 win over the Washington Wizards in front of their home fans at TD Garden Monday night, the Cavaliers know the atmosphere in Boston will be at a fever pitch.
“The crowd’s great,” Lue said. “They have an unbelievable crowd, just as we do, so we’re used to that kind of environment because we get that same kind of crowd here, so they feed off their crowd, they feed off their energy, and that crowd’s amazing.
“Just the winning tradition with Boston in general with the Patriots, with the Red Sox, with the Celtics, they just have a winning tradition in Boston. It’s with all sports, and that town, they love their sports. They’re great fans, and the team, they appreciate it. I had a chance to experience some of it when I was there.”
Much like the crowd, Boston’s NBA history is great.
The Celtics have won a record 17 NBA championships, and as such, their home arena is full of banners recognizing successful teams and honoring the greatest players in franchise history.
“You know the history of the game, you just respect that,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “You look up into the stands and see the banners and see the jerseys retired and things of that nature, you respect the history that’s created to this point.”
The Cavaliers have not played since finishing off a four-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Sunday, May 7, but they underwent several days of conditioning and fine-tuning their skills ahead of the third straight trip to the conference finals.
“At the end of the day, we know the opponent is the playoffs,” Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson said. “We know every game counts, so guys punch in the clock and know that one missed screen or that one rebound that we don’t get can cost us a game.
“I think guys just kind of turned the switch on understanding the opponents, and I think it starts with our coaches coming in, making sure we’re locked in, going over the same plays over and over again because those repetitions and us ingraining the other team’s defense and their schemes, that’s what helps in the long run.”