James, Love lead way as Cavs roll past Celtics, 117-104, in Game 1

James, Love lead way as Cavs roll past Celtics, 117-104, in Game 1

BOSTON –  So much for home court advantage.

After falling behind by as many as 28 points, the Boston Celtics clawed back into the game but there was just too much ground to make up against a motivated Cleveland team that needed just 48 minutes to get back home court advantage, something the Celtics worked all season to claim.

And when the final horn sounded, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers moved one step closer to a repeat with a 117-104 victory.

LeBron James had a near triple-double with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Kevin Love had a double-double of 32 points and 12 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were led by Avery Bradley’s 21 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Isaiah Thomas had a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists, but shot just 7-for-19 from the field while missing five of his seven 3-point attempts.

Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 1-0, with Game 2 in Boston on Friday.

Boston got down big and made great strides in the second half, but the huge deficit forced them to play near-perfect basketball just to have a shot which they came up short of accomplishing.

Looking at the way the game was played, it looked as if the Celtics were tired at the start of the game and didn’t seem to catch their breath until the second half.

It was that kind of game in the fourth quarter as the Celtics hung close but had too much ground to make up and not enough defensive stops in them to really put a dent in the Cavaliers' big lead.

But the Celtics continued to fight and claw their way, doing just enough to keep the game from getting out of hand and in a sense, setting the tone for what they certainly hope will be a better showing in Game 2.

One of the big storylines coming into Game 1 was whether Cleveland would be a little rusty after having had nine days off since they last played.


They were crisp and efficient from the start, getting anything and everything they wanted offensively while the Celtics struggled to get into any kind of flow or rhythm.

Indeed, it was an emotion-free game for most of the third quarter, but that all changed when Avery Bradley was fouled on a dunk attempt.

He made both free throws, but maybe more important, he made it clear to anyone watching the game that despite being down by 20-plus points, he was still in the fight.

And his teammates soon responded with improved, more gritty play defensively along with a slight uptick in terms of scoring the ball.

Having trailed by as many as 28 points in the third, there was little hope that Boston could mount the kind of comeback that would result in a victory.

But as they chipped away at Cleveland’s lead, it was clear that they were not going to let the Cavs just run away with this game.

And there they were, trailing 92-75 going into the fourth after a Marcus Smart put-back dunk with 2.8 seconds to play in the third.  

Cleveland’s big lead was fueled in large part by the play of James.

Shocker, right?

Often, James begins games looking to get his teammates involved offensively.

Not tonight.

James called his own number early and often, tallying 15 points in the first quarter while making seven of his first eight field goals primarily on drives to the basket for lay-ups.

Cleveland opened the game with a 20-9 run before leading by as many 23 points in the second quarter after Kyrie Irving connected with Tristan Thompson on a lob dunk that made it a 48-25 game.

Brad Stevens, looking for some way to slow the rising momentum of Cleveland down, called a time-out with 5:17 to play.

The Celtics were able to play them relatively even the rest of the half, which doesn’t do much good when facing a deficit on the north side of 20 points.

It was just too much LeBron.

James had the kind of box score at the half that you would consider a good game – 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting, with five rebounds and four assists.

Meanwhile, the Celtics got strong play in the first half from rookie Jaylen Brown who continues to play some of his best basketball against the Cavaliers. He finished with 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Boston did end the half on a positive note with Thomas draining a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds to play that brought the Celtics within 61-39 at the half.

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST  - Smart's importance to C's, dissecting the East

Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 


Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention. 

And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST - Smart's importance, dissecting the Eastern Conference

The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.

Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.  

With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3. 

Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game. 

With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn. 

In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points. 

And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.

In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench. 

This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time. 

But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out. 

Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.

But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory. 

For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy. 

Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward. 

Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second. 

Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.

And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.