NBA Eastern Conference Finals 2016/17, Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics: 5 takeaways from Game 1
What will decide the rest of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series between the Cavaliers and the Celtics? Find out here.
Well, that didn’t last very long.
Any joy the Celtics had over the past 48 hours by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals or by winning the #1 Overall Pick in the 2017 Draft was quickly incinerated by one, Mr. LeBron James.
The final score, a mere 13-point victory for the Cavaliers isn’t actually representative of how lopsided this matchup was in almost every facet of the game, as Cleveland beat the living spirit out of Boston to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
For the past half a decade, since the Eastern Conference’s Miami Heat won their first championship with their Big 3, there has been one question on everybody’s mind, who’s going to stop LeBron? And the way James is going we might not have an answer for the next five years either.
Brad Stevens threw everything he had at James, but nothing stopped the King. Frankly, Stevens could’ve thrown an oil tanker at him and LeBron would have still found a way to rise over the top and score relentlessly.
The Cavaliers came into the game with a speed, ferocity and focus that the Celtics simply couldn’t match, as they outscored Boston by 10 in the first quarter and then by 10 in the second quarter again. The Celtics had some semblance of an actual basketball team in the third and fourth quarter, as six of their players hit double digits in points, but after shooting 31% from deep, the closest they ever came to upsetting the Cavaliers was late in garbage time when they pulled to a single digit deficit.
The Cavaliers wouldn’t ever let them have that. Instead, Derrick Williams’ 3 with a minute and a half left made a comeback improbable, and the follow up 3 by Channing Frye on the next possession made it impossible.
The Cavaliers led by double digits almost throughout the game and a Cavalier-Warrior Finals III has never looked so likely. The Cavaliers had a higher field goal percentage, a higher 3-Point percentage, a higher Free Throw percentage, more Free Throws attempted, collected more rebounds and had more steals, blocks and points off turnovers than the Celtics. (Fun fact: Over the past three years, Cleveland has been 33-4 against the East during the Playoffs, of which two losses came when Kevin Love was out. Take that for data).
#1 LeBron “What’s a Crowd to a King?” James
As I’ve stated before, LeBron James isn’t by any means particularly young. At 32 years of age and in his 14th season in the league, he really should be getting all the rest he needs. After a second-round sweep of the Raptors, he earned his ten days’ worth, but suddenly decided he didn’t need any more as he decided to play the entire game against the Celtics, staying off the floor for just seven minutes.
With this win, LeBron has now won more Playoff series than Michael Jordan, in fewer trips. After thirteen trips to the Playoffs, Jordan won 30 games, losing 7, as opposed to James’ twelve trips, where he’s won 31 and lost 8.
It didn’t matter where LeBron shot from; inside, outside, from the free throw line, he torched the Celtics every time. In the first quarter alone he put up 15/3/2/1. It’s not like he paced himself through the rest of the game either, putting up 38 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals on 59% shooting, his fifth consecutive game of scoring at least 35 points in these Playoffs.
In fact, since LeBron came into the league, there have been 19 Playoff games in which a player has had a stat line of 37/9/7 or better. James singlehandedly has had 15 of them. And if that wasn’t enough, just to put the fear of God Almighty into the Celtics, in the post-match conference, LeBron quipped, “After ten days off, I didn’t feel that great, but I know I’ll feel a lot better going into Game 2.”