CLEVELAND - Here are my final '3 Shots' after the Cavaliers dominant 117-104 win over the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. (The score does not reflect how much the Cavs controlled this game)
1. The Celtics are going to scratch, claw, and annoy. The Cavs can't afford to fall into the trap
I wrote about this before the game. It's the only thing that concerns me in this series.
The Celtics closed the 3rd quarter on a 15-4 run to pull themselves to within 92-75. That surge coincided with a double-foul called on Tristan Thompson and Marcus Smart that led to Isaiah Thomas getting into Thompson's face. Welcome to the world of Boston being Boston. This is what they're going to do. They will smack-talk, scratch, claw, bump...whatever it takes to get a mental edge on their opponent. And that style of play seems to also ignite the crowd in Boston. The Cavs can't worry about trying to return fire on hard fouls, or get in shouting matches with the Celtics or officials. As Herb Brooks, the coach of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team in 1980 used to say, "Play your game!"
2. Kevin Love is out for payback
And I'm not talking about physical payback against Kelly Olynyk for the incident that dislocated his shoulder two years ago. It's more like he's telling the Celtics, 'I'm here, I'm healthy, and you're not going to stop me this time.' Love was brilliant in the third quarter, hitting 5 three-point baskets and scoring 18 points. And as TNT's Chris Webber pointed out, those successes led Love to be more aggressive in his post-up game. There was so much talk before this series began about Head Coach Ty Lue trying to get Love more touches on the offensive side. Kyrie Irving was a big part of that, passing up on open looks to find Love for VERY open looks. The more Love contributes, the more space is created for LeBron and Irving to drive to the basket.
3. Yes, LeBron is still red-hot in this postseason
For the seventh straight game in these playoffs, LeBron James topped 30 points. For the fifth straight time, he had over 35 points. He finished with 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. But the thing that's impressing me more and more in this postseason is LeBron's shot selection. He knows when to post-up, when to take the open jumper, and has been much more confident in his 3-point shooting. James is also hitting his free throws with much better efficiency.
Don't believe me? Why not check with someone who knows James' postseason history quite well, former Heat and Cavs teammate Mike Miller:
FACEBOOK LIVE RECAP:
Matt Florjancic and yours truly wrapped up the Cavaliers' impressive victory from the Q in our postgame WKYC Facebook Live:
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