Leading up to last night’s Game 2 I heard a variety of hot takes regarding this Eastern Conference Finals after the Boston Celtics blew out the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1.
The world of sports was filled with takes ranging from how LeBron has already signed with his next team, to the Cavaliers flat out quitting on James, and how the Celtics are already booking flights for the NBA Finals.
To say that the world overreacted to Game 1 is an understatement. It’s a fun game to play but also at the same time it’s not fun at all and I wish for everyone to not call a series over when LEBRON JAMES CAN DO ALL OF THE THINGS. There were serious people questioning if the Cavs had any shot the rest of the way.
Then there was me… Sitting at work, or in my apartment, or waddling on the treadmill and curling 15’s with the ferocity of a young and upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger. One thing was on my mind.
It was LeBron James. I’m not ashamed to admit that LeBron James haunts my mind more than any scorned enemy or ex-girlfriend. This freaking guy cons you into thinking he’s packing it in only to rip your heart out with a Super Nova performance like no other.
I just kept thinking about what was to come in Game 2. LeBron wasn’t going to be passive. He wasn’t going to “Get guys involved” … LeBron James’ mission going into Game 2 was to score 4 million points and take this series back. I knew it was coming, all I could wonder was how the Celtics would handle the repeated haymakers.
Just so we’re all on the same page. The Celtics handled those haymakers like Ali in his prime. Unfazed.
Staying The Course
LeBron James first quarter of play was something to marvel at. I cannot stand the guy but even I can appreciate just how incredible this dude really is when he’s locked in and imposing his will.
21 points in the 1st quarter… Not the most ideal scenario for the Celtics. You know who didn’t give two shits about his great first quarter? The Celtics.
The C’s knew this punch was coming. I think they would have preferred to keep LeBron under 20 in the opening frame but here’s the difference between the Celtics and every other team in the NBA.
When LeBron James does what he did in the first quarter to any other team… That team will fold. If another organization takes that punch from LeBron then the rout is on and you’re looking to the next game. The Celtics on the other hand just laugh in your face and understand that if they keep playing hard and make you take difficult shots the game will even out and you’ll have opportunities to win.
There will be a lot of debate on when the turning point in this game occurred. Many are saying it was that stretch in the 3rd quarter where the Celtics went bonkers from the floor while the Cavs turned into rotten pumpkins.
I saw it differently. The turning point of this game was the final minutes of the first half. The Celtics were down double-digits and finding it tough to break through and cut the deficit down. Kyle Korver decided to come out of his old-man freezer and was given a flamethrower to score 11 points in the second quarter.
Then… What’s that? Could it be? IT IS!
IT’S MARCUS SMART’S MUSIC
This sequence from Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris turned this game right around. The Cavs had the Celtics teetering on the tightrope of letting this game get out of hand. This is a potential four-point swing (at least) that could have had the Celtics going into the half down 15.
Instead, Marcus Smart makes the usual Marcus Smart play and the Celtics are only down 7 at halftime despite LeBron going nuts. That is where this game started to turn.
Speaking of Marcus Smart
If you are still questioning the value of Marcus Smart on this basketball team then I just have no hope for you.
Marcus Smart defies everything that it means to be a stud player in TODAY’S NBA. His jump shot is inconsistent, he lacks size, and he’s not a go-to offensive weapon. These are the criticisms that are constantly surrounding Marcus Smart when the media tries to diminish his value.
What makes Marcus Smart so special is that he does everything that most players overlook. I have never once seen Smart give up on a play. In fact, I would say that Smart works harder for 50-50 loose balls than any player in the NBA. He will guard every position on the floor if needed and he’ll do it successfully.
Really, it’s the plays like these that just fill your heart with life…
He defies the stat sheet. Marcus Smart is a winner of the highest order and he will do whatever it takes to win. Even if it means getting in the face of bum ass JR Smith when he commits a dirty foul on Al Horford.
Smart exemplifies what it means to play the Celtics style of basketball. He will not rest until he knows he gave everything to do all of the little things that most people overlook. That’s how you do it.
Al Horford AKA Dad
Al Horford had a particularly quiet 15pts and 10reb. In the first three quarters, there wasn’t much to be talked about when it came to Al. He had some great plays in the first half but mainly he was anchored on the defensive end of the floor holding his own while others took care of the scoring duties.
You just knew he was coming in the fourth though. Playoff Al is a real thing folks get used to it now. When the chips are on the table and someone needs to step up and take hold of the moment, Al Horford is the guy to do it.
It was no different last night.
Play after play on both ends of the floor Al Horford was doing the damn thing. He’s such a consistent rock for this team that always know he’ll be ready to go when crunch time arrives.
Here’s your Shea Serrano dose of Al Horford tweets
Those NEVER get old.
It is still so incredible to watch the trio of Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, & Jayson Tatum play in primetime playoff games and perform the way they are performing.
I was saying this to a friend of mine the other day. He just kept asking how it was possible that players this young can be so effective on the biggest stage.
It’s a question that I’ve thought about too and I’ll say here what I said to him. I truly think the young guns on this Celtics’ team are too young to give a shit. They literally could not care any less about what the storied narrative says regarding young players.
There’s a basketball game to be played. They know they’re very good at the game of basketball. So, in turn, they’re going to go play said basketball game to the best of their ability.
It’s that simple. Jaylen Brown keeps saying it to everyone who will listen. This Celtics team will not back down from anybody and that includes the greatest player on the planet in LeBron James.
They’re fearless and they trust the coach that consistently puts them in the best possible position to succeed.
These three got their games going by attacking the rim. After establishing a route easier to travel than 495 South on a Wednesday at 11AM the Cavs were committed to protecting the paint. That opened the door for perimeter shooting.
These three are seeing the game in a way that’s borderline unbelievable for guys of their experience level. They have no intentions of letting up.
QUICK MARCUS MORRIS CAPTION CONTEST
“SHE WAS PREGNANT AND YOU PULLED THAT SHIT?!”
On To The Next One
People were already overreacting to Game 1 and it’s going to be 100000000 times worse since the NBA is acting like a bunch of morons with Game 3 being on SATURDAY FREAKING NIGHT.
I have to wait three whole goddamn days and watch all this ESPN coverage of how LeBron will battle his team back into this series. Stupid.
People are calling this series and those are the sheep. We have to try and keep this all in perspective. One game at a time. I will never give up on that. The Celtics had a job to do in Game 1 and Game 2. Protect their home floor.
They did their job. Granted they did it in spectacular fashion that was unexpected… but they did what they were supposed to do and they know that.
Game 3 is about to be an entirely different animal. Say what you will about Cleveland and Cavs fans but that building is no joke. The environment can rock and the Celtics have had their fair share of struggles on the road.
The Celtics have the Cavs on the ropes right now and it’s their job to again weather the initial storm and stay the course. I expect the Cavs role players to actually have pulses when playing at home so the Celtics need to be ready to elevate the defensive pressure to keep those guys in check while LeBron scores 40+ again.
The ultimate positive of these first two games besides being up 2-0? After Game 1 there were the naysayers who said “Well wait until LeBron really tries” … I even had to say that to myself since LeBron looked so off in Game 1.
He tried his hardest in Game 2. He went insane. It wasn’t enough.
The Celtics will be ready to go Saturday night and if they keep staying the course, they’ll be one step closer to the NBA Finals.