Cleve­land’s LeBron and Love waltz past Celtics in game one of the fi­nal se­ries

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LEBRON James de­liv­ered 38 points and Kevin Love had a ca­reer play­off high 32 as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Cleve­land Cava­liers opened their East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal se­ries with a blowout win on Wed­nes­day.

The Cava­liers were com­ing off a 10-day break but showed no signs of rust by go­ing wire-towire to eas­ily beat the Bos­ton Celtics 117-104 at the Bos­ton Gar­den arena.

“Start­ing the game, LeBron re­ally con­trolled the tempo, re­ally set the tone early,” Cleve­land coach Ty­ronn Lue said. “He’s play­ing at a high level right now, and that’s the rea­son we’re rid­ing him so much.”

Game two is to­day at the Gar­den be­fore the se­ries shifts to Cleve­land for games three and four.

“Amaz­ing, but he’s bet­ter than when I first got into the league,” said Celtics fourth-year coach Brad Stevens of James.

The Cava­liers dom­i­nated from the open­ing tip-off. They com­piled a 26-point lead in the first half and ex­pand­ing it to 28 in the third quar­ter be­fore the Celtics cut it down to 17 at the end of the quar­ter.

James, who is seek­ing to reach his sev­enth straight NBA fi­nals, scored 15 in the fourth quar­ter en route to his sev­enth straight 30point game. He also had nine re­bounds and seven as­sists.

James said as well as the Cava­liers played, they can do even bet­ter.

“I don’t even think we played that great tonight,” James said. “We def­i­nitely didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’re ca­pa­ble of shoot­ing it.

“I think the en­ergy and the ef­fort and mind­set was where it needed to be start­ing on the road, es­pe­cially in the East­ern Con­fer­ence Fi­nals.”

Love also grabbed 12 re­bounds. Tris­tan Thomp­son had 20 points and nine re­bounds, and Kyrie Irv­ing tal­lied 11 points and six as­sists.

“Tonight was an­other one of those games where I made a cou­ple plays to help us get a win, but it was def­i­nitely our two bigs (Love and Thomp­son who) set the tone,” James said. “They were phe­nom­e­nal.”

Avery Bradley and Jae Crow­der led the Celtics with 21 points apiece.

The Cava­liers man­aged to keep Isa­iah Thomas in check as he fin­ished with just 17 points and 10 as­sists. He was just seven of 19 from the floor, two of seven from be­yond the arc.

The win was the Cava­liers’ 12th in a row in the play­offs (one shy of match­ing the NBA record, set by the 1988-89 Los An­ge­les Lak­ers), dat­ing back to last year’s fi­nals.

Bos­ton had their five-game home play­off win­ning streak snapped.

Some third-quar­ter un­pleas­ant­ness erupted be­tween Thomp­son and Bos­ton’s Mar­cus Smart. The pair were whis­tled for dou­ble fouls on one oc­ca­sion and came to­gether on other oc­ca­sions.

RE­SULT — Semi-fi­nal play­off (best of seven se­ries): Cleve­land 117 Bos­ton 104. AFP


Cava­liers’ LeBron James (right) tries to go past Celtics play­ers dur­ing game one of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals in Bos­ton on Wed­nes­day.

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