Beatdown in Boston: Cavs crush Celtics by 44 points in Game 2

Beatdown in Boston: Cavs crush Celtics by 44 points in Game 2


BOSTON -- LeBron James scored 30 points, Kevin Love had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers steamrolled the Boston Celtics 130-86 on Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals and tie an NBA record with their 13th straight playoff victory.

Cleveland led by 14 points after one quarter, by a record 41 at the half and by 46 after three. Even with James and the rest of the starters sitting out the fourth quarter, the 130 points was the most ever scored by the franchise in a playoff game.

Kyrie Irving had 23 points for the Cavaliers, who return home with a chance to finish off the Celtics in Cleveland. It would be the third straight sweep this postseason for the defending NBA champions, who also won the last three games of last year's finals.

Game 3 is Sunday night.

"It's one game. I don't care if you win by 200 points," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "We're going back home, we're not going to get comfortable. We understand that this is a good team. They're not No. 1 in the East for no reason."

The Celtics played the second half without Isaiah Thomas due to a strained right hip. But the game was already out of reach by that time.

With both teams going to their benches early in the fourth quarter, the only suspense was whether the Celtics could avoid the worst playoff loss in franchise history. The Orlando Magic beat them by 47 points in the first round of the 1995 postseason.

Still, it was the Celtics' worst home playoff loss ever.

Thomas finished with just a pair of free throws, missing all six shots from the field; he also had six assists. Rookie Jaylen Brown scored 19 for Boston, Avery Bradley had 13 and Al Horford had 11 points and five rebounds.

The game tipped off about 15 minutes after the three finalists for NBA MVP were announced, and James wasn't among them. It's the first time since 2008 that he won't finish in the top three.

"You've got to give the award to different people every now and then," Lue said. "But to me, LeBron's the MVP. Just like (Shaquille O'Neal), you can give him the MVP every season, if you want to."

James, who's won the award four times, still has a chance for a fourth NBA title - and second in a row. Maybe Golden State can figure out a way to slow him down, or San Antonio if it can come back in the West. The Celtics haven't found a way, and they're running out of time.

James had 22 points in the first half, when he also collected six assists and had three blocked shots, including a chase-down rejection of Bradley that was reminiscent of the one against Andre Iguodala in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

That one was critical to clinching Cleveland's first championship since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964.

This one more like rubbing the Celtics' noses in the fact that they just couldn't stop him.


Cavaliers: James is first player with at least 30 points in eight straight playoff games since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970. ... James played just 33 minutes - a low for this postseason and just the second time he played fewer than 40 in the 2017 playoffs.

Celtics: Celtics coach Brad Stevens started Gerald Green in place of Amir Johnson. Green made his first two shots - both 3-pointers - but finished with six points. ... The Celtics missed their first six shots. ... There was a large contingent of New England Patriots sitting courtside, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and owner Robert Kraft. ... Thomas and Stevens were hit with technical fouls about a minute apart in the second quarter.

Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup


Report: During players-only meeting, Spurs implore Kawhi to return to lineup

The Kawhi Leonard saga continues to take twists and turns.

After last Saturday night's win over Minnesota, the Spurs had a players-only meeting and implored Kawhi Leonard to return to game action, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

It didn't seem to work.

From Woj:

Leonard, 26, was resolute in response, insisting that he had good reason for sitting out all but nine games with a right quad injury this season, league sources said.

Leonard has targeted games in the recent week, only to decide that he wasn't feeling confident in the injury to return, league sources said.

After San Antonio's shootaround on Wednesday, Manu Ginobili was asked about Kawhi.

"He is not coming back," Ginobili told reporters. "For me, he's not coming back because it's not helping. We fell for it a week ago again. I guess you guys made us fall for it.

"But we have to think that he's not coming back, that we are who we are, and that we got to fight without him. That shouldn't be changing, at least until he is ready for the jump ball."

Entering Thursday, the Spurs (42-30) are in 5th place in the Western Conference, three games clear of the 9th-place Nuggets. 

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Warriors keeping quiet on playoff roster battles for the right reasons


Warriors keeping quiet on playoff roster battles for the right reasons

OAKLAND -- At the mention of the most relevant non-injury question related to the Warriors, Steve Kerr treats the subject like an IRS bill he’ll eventually have to pay.

“It’s not even something that we have to address,” Kerr said the other day.

On the same subject, Kerr’s boss, general manager Bob Myers, also goes into full procrastination mode.

“We’ll sit down at the end of this regular season,” Myers told 95.7 FM The Game on Wednesday, “and decide what our playoff roster should look like.”

Ah, yes, the playoff roster. Neither Kerr nor Myers is sharing details -- on whether Quinn Cook will be included -- because they don’t have to, don’t need to and are smart enough to avoid the fallout sure to follow a premature announcement.

Understand, though, Kerr and Myers realize they have to add Cook. The young point guard has earned it on merit and out of potential need.

Since replacing the injured Stephen Curry in the starting lineup March 9, Cook is averaging 16.3 points per game on 52.7-percent shooting, including 43.3 percent from deep. Over the last three games, as Cook grew comfortable with his role, those numbers rose to 24.3, 60.4 and 54.5.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all what Quinn’s doing,“ Kerr said. “We watched him in the G-League all year, lighting it up. We watched him in practice here; he’s one of our best shooters. And all of a sudden he’s playing 40 minutes? This is what he can do.”

“We kept telling him, go get 20. Go get 25. We need that. If you look at our roster without the guys that we have, he should be our leading scorer. That’s what he does.”

Yet the Warriors wisely will delay any announcement as long as possible. They can wait as late as April 11, the last day an NBA contract can be signed and be effective for this season. They have until noon April 13 to submit the postseason roster.

Cook, as a two-way player, doesn’t possess a standard NBA contract. He can only be added to the postseason roster if the Warriors create an opening. Someone on the current 15-man roster, holding a guaranteed contract, would have to be released before additions can be made.

No one is more vulnerable in that regard than Omri Casspi, who has been in and out of the lineup more than anyone else mostly as a result of inconsistent play, poor defense and nagging injuries. The veteran fell out of the rotation in January and was relegated mostly to blowout minutes before a cluster of injuries struck the team.

The Warriors have become increasingly reluctant to play him in crucial moments, and the playoffs are all about crucial moments.

The only other candidate is center Damian Jones, who almost certainly won’t play in the postseason. He spent nearly all season with G-League Santa Cruz, but remains on the team’s radar beyond this season. The Warriors aren’t certain he’s a keeper, but they’ve exercised the option to bring him back next season.

Which brings us back to Casspi, the veteran forward who signed a one-year contract last July. The Warriors are not invested in him beyond this season.

The team is moderately invested in Cook. His two-way contract runs through next season. Off what he has shown this season, particularly in recent games, he’s a strong candidate to swap the two-way pact for a standard NBA deal next season.

“He’s been great for us,” Myers told 95.7 The Game. “The future will be interesting. We like him a lot.”

Cook, who turns 25 on Friday, is the most dynamic point guard on the roster not named Stephen Curry. In the wake of Curry’s recurrent ankle woes this season, Kerr and Myers are acutely aware of the value in having someone comfortable sharing the load at the point with veteran Shaun Livingston. You may remember last year, when the Warriors were desperate enough to sign 35-year-old Jose Calderon for a similar role.

Cook is, at this time, more valuable than either Casspi or Jones. Or Calderon.

“We’re setting the roster going into the playoffs and make the best decision that allows us to win,” Myers said. “(CEO Joe Lacob) has made it clear. One thing about Joe . . . it’s about that. That’s the only directive he gives. Go win.

“Steve’s the coach. He’s the boss. He’s the captain of that ship, as far as what the roster should look like going into the playoffs.”

Cook’s fine work and Curry’s cranky ankle have brought the Warriors to this place. They have roughly three weeks to make the call or, rather, officially announce it.