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.

NBA rumors: Lakers less appealing to Jimmy Butler because of LeBron James


NBA rumors: Lakers less appealing to Jimmy Butler because of LeBron James

Jimmy Butler is currently a member of the Timberwolves.

But that may not be the case for much longer.

League sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski that Butler requested a trade from Minnesota.

Sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Butler would prefer to be shipped to the Knicks, Nets or Clippers.

What about the Lakers?

Well, as Wojnarowski wrote on Wednesday afternoon:

Butler had once imagined playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James' arrival as the franchise's cornerstone made it less appealing for Butler in the prime of his career, league sources said.

Kyrie Irving demanded a trade from Cleveland, Paul George stayed in OKC, there have been rumblings that Kawhi Leonard may prefer the Clippers over the Lakers and now this.

What does this say, if anything, about LeBron James? It's all certainly....... interesting.

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

Steve Kerr concerned by lack of turnover on Warriors coaching staff


Steve Kerr concerned by lack of turnover on Warriors coaching staff

Let's take a look at the Warriors' assistant coaches since Steve Kerr arrived prior to the 2014-15 season:

-2014-15 -- Alvin Gentry, Luke Walton, Ron Adams
-2015-16 -- Luke Walton, Jarron Collins, Ron Adams
-2016-17 -- Mike Brown, Jarron Rollins, Ron Adams
-2017-18 -- Mike Brown, Jarron Collins, Ron Adams
-2018-19 -- Mike Brown, Jarron Collins, Ron Adams

As you can see, there hasn't been a single change in three seasons.

Additionally, player development coaches Bruce Fraser, Chris DeMarco and Willie Green have been on staff for several years.

Why does this matter?

The California Sunday Magazine recently published a conversation between Kerr and legendary head coach Phil Jackson.

One exchange between the two:

Jackson: "Have you made any additions to your coaching staff, Steve?"

Kerr: "No. We haven’t had much turnover at all the last couple of years, so that’s a concern as well. I think we could actually use a little bit of a change in that regard, but you can’t always dictate that."