Vir­tual must-win for Celtics

Cebu Daily News - - SPORTS -

Bos­ton — LeBron James did pretty much what­ever he wanted to against the Celtics in the Cava­liers’ dom­i­nat­ing win in Game 1 of the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

He was ef­fi­cient, scor­ing from the out­side, rolling down­hill and get­ting to the rim at will, pass­ing to team­mates and lock­ing down Bos­ton’s scor­ers when called upon.

With home-court ad­van­tage gone, the Celtics face a vir­tual must-win Game 2 on Fri­day night. Bos­ton must find a way to slow down James while not get­ting eaten up by a sup­port­ing cast, which other than Kevin Love’s big game, didn’t pro­duce at its usual high rate.

Oh, and there’s ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion for Cleve­land — now 9-0 in these play­offs — which could earn an­other long rest if it makes quick work of the Celtics.

But here’s the rub for top-seeded Bos­ton on Fri­day night: James said he wasn’t even play­ing at peak con­di­tion af­ter Cleve­land’s 10-day lay­off between rounds.

“I felt OK last night,” James said Thurs­day. “I knew I wouldn’t feel that great af­ter the game, and I don’t feel that great right now. ... But I should be much bet­ter (Fri­day).”

Bet­ter than 38 points, nine re­bounds and seven as­sists? Good luck with that, Bos­ton.

Still, James said the Cavs are men­tally pre­par­ing for the Celtics’ best shot in Game 2.

“There’s go­ing to be some ad­just­ments made from both sides. We have to be ready for it,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously, we don’t know the ex­act ad­just­ments, but we know they’re go­ing to make ad­just­ments. That’s what good teams do, and we have to be ready for what­ever they bring to the ta­ble.”

Most of the dam­age in Game 1 was done by only two players — James and Love. Kyrie Irv­ing had just 11 points on 4-of-11 shoot­ing, and usu­ally de­pend­able sharp­shoot­ers J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver were a com­bined 2 for 8 as coach Ty­ronn Lue used a dif­fer­ent sec­ond unit to start the sec­ond quar­ter with James rest­ing.

AP

The Bos­ton Celtics bench dur­ing Game 1 against the Cava­liers.

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