Celtics vs. Cavaliers: Five takeaways from Game 1
BOSTON -- Sifting through the statistical rubble of Boston’s 108-83 Game 1 win over Cleveland, you reach a conclusion that's hardly ever true: The final score truly was indicative of how the game played.
While there were areas in which the Cavs didn’t quite execute as well as they usually do, the steady thread was how the Celtics stepped up their play in so many facets of the game.
Here we take a look at five takeaways from an afternoon in which the Celtics did a noticeably better job than the Cavs, which led to their most lopsided win of this playoff season.
Stopping LeBron James with one player isn’t going to happen. The best you can do is slow him down and hope he’s not being overly aggressive. Boston hit the jackpot in both areas in Game 1, with James limited to just 15 points. Marcus Morris (pictured) was the primary defender on James (39 times), while Semi Ojeleye was next (15 possessions, according to nba.com/stats). James' lack of aggressiveness stemmed from the Celtics' ability to get back and not allow him to hurt them in transition, as well as taking away his ability to attack the paint. Also, Boston’s active hands made passing tougher than usual for James, which was evident in his seven turnovers.
POINTS IN THE PAINT
You could hardly tell the difference between the ease in which the Celtics scored on layups during their pregame warmups and what we saw in the game. The Celtics wound up with 60 points in the paint, a sure-fire recipe for a Boston win.
It may not seem like the most important or sexiest stat out there, but Boston’s ability to box out consistently was one of the more glossed-over stats in the blowout win. The Celtics were +14 (43-29) in box-outs, doing a solid job against Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love, who have been major players when it comes to getting great position for rebounds. The C's also won the rebounding battle, 42-40.
It was clear that a big part of Cleveland’s game plan was to get the ball out of Jayson Tatum’s hands with quick double-teams, tilts or an occasional blitz. His string of games scoring 20 or more is over, as the Cavs held him to 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. However, Tatum's teammates more than picked up the slack, most notably . . .
There’s a level of confidence Brown has that, for many, doesn’t always make sense. He’s only in his second year and yet he has the kind of faith in his game that few players ever get, let alone have in just their second season. Brown got himself going seconds into Game 1 with a driving lay-up. He would continue to pour gasoline on the dumpster fire that we know as Cleveland’s defense, leading the Celtics with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting.