Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Whatever James decides to do, he does better than anyone. In the first half he was aggressive, overpowering Jae Crowder and blowing by Kelly Olynyk whenever the Celtics switched. “It was very clear that he was trying to get to the rim on us no matter who was on him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. When the scorer became a playmaker, it was Kevin Love (32 points) who reaped the rewards.
“It’s hard to believe, but he is better than when I got in the league,” Stevens said. “A lot better. As you get older, you gain more experiences. You see more things. I didn’t think he could get any better. But he is. He’s a good player. A great player.”
Boston will play better on Friday; really, it couldn’t play worse. Isaiah Thomas pieced together 17 points, but the aggressiveness in his game was missing. Al Horford (11 points, eight rebounds) was outplayed by Tristan Thompson (20 points, nine rebounds), while Olynyk, a hero in the Game 7 East semifinal win over Washington, was on mop-up duty in Game 1. Fatigue was clearly a factor, and Boston vowed to play with more energy the next time out.
“With a team like that, the defending champions, you can’t let them hit first,” Thomas said. “We’ll make sure it’s different in Game 2.”
The Vertical — LeBron James makes clear to Celtics who is no. 1 in the east
The 48-hours leading up to game one allowed not only for Celtics’ fans to revel in the events of Monday and then Tuesday night, but to look, with a magnifying glass, to try and find cracks in the case for the Cavs steamrolling the Celtics in 4 or 5 games.
Honestly, it was easier to find those cracks two years ago, with the Cavs a 1-seed and the Celtics a plucky, unexpected 8-seed. Cleveland was still trying to make the pieces fit, then Kevin Love went down, there were questions about the coach and there were big time questions about Lebron James getting the most out of a bevy of role players.
Now? The Celtics are the second best team in the east, yet the Cavs’ pieces fit perfectly. Kevin Love is here– just standing in the corner waiting for shooting practice to commence when Lebron finds him, the coach? C’mon, there’s no coach, it’s Lebron running the show, and the role players around Lebron know where to wait for their guy to find them.
Then there’s Lebron himself, who seriously looks like he found the cheat code for Super Mario World and can now play the game with his eyes closed, on one life, without mushroom/flower/flying power. Watching him troll the Raps and, in game one, the Celtics, reminded me of watching Jack Parkman, the douche bag catcher for the White Sox in Major League. Last night Lebron, after a hard foul from Jaylen Brown, stood there with a smirk and repeatedly shrugged his shoulders. It was like Parkman’s shimmy, “it makes the women here in Boston puke.”
As Isaiah promises, the Celtics will play better; they won’t lose every game in this series by 20 points and they may even be in a tight game or two down the stretch. But it feels as though when Lebron James wants to vanquish an Eastern Conference opponent, he just does.
Personally, it’s a sickening to watch him toy with the Cs in the same way he toyed with Toronto. He’s taking real joy in squashing the so-called contenders in the east. Hoping the Cs put up some resistance to show James they won’t just step aside on his way to the finals.
On page 2, but hey– Jaylen Brown was good!
Jaylen Brown was arguably the best Celtic on the floor last night, though in light of the 117-104 loss to Cleveland in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the rookie’s performance was far from enough.
But as the Celtics’ leading rebounder (with nine), as well as being their most efficient scorer (10 points, 5-for-7), Brown has once again excited the base with signs of what is to come.
“There are a couple things about him. I thought he played well. But I think it also was very evident that athletically he’s just a special athlete,” said C’s coach Brad Stevens. “He can do things that other guys can’t do, whether it’s offensive rebounding or getting to the basket or whatever the case may be. We need some of those things, so I would expect him to continue to play a large role for us in this series.”
If there’s a silver lining from last night, and perhaps for the rest of the series, is that Jaylen Brown is getting a crash-course in what playoff greatness looks like. He proved up for the challenge and showed arguably as many glimpses of what he is going to become in last night’s game than he did during any game during the regular season.
Brown should get ample minutes not only because it’s huge for his development, but because he actually might be the best answer to Cleveland’s athleticism.
CBS Boston — Jaylen Brown a bright spot in game one loss
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