BOSTON – As expected, Hurricane LeBron James arrived at the TD Garden Tuesday night, unleashing some pretty serious damage to a Boston Celtics defense that has been among the league’s best this season.
Considering all the basketball adversity the Celtics have experienced this season, no team in the postseason now was built better to withstand James’ scoring onslaught like the one we witnessed in Game 2 as James tallied a super-sized triple-double of 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Boston used a second half surge to take control of Game 2 and in doing so, pull away for a surprisingly comfortable 107-94 win.
The Celtics now have a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series that shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 23 points while Al Horford who came through in a big way in the fourth, tallied a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds along with four assists. Off the Celtics bench, Marcus Smart was trending towards a double-double before finishing with 11 points and nine assists.
Boston didn’t take its first lead of the game until the third quarter when Smart hit a 3-pointer that put Boston ahead, 72-71. The Celtics would push their lead up to five points (79-74) following a 3-pointer by Aron Baynes which capped off an 18-8 run. Boston’s late surge in the third quarter continued to swell as the third quarter ended with Boston ahead 84-77 courtesy of a 23-11 run to end the quarter.
Boston’s third quarter surge carried into the fourth quarter, leading to Cleveland calling a time-out just 46 seconds into the fourth after Boston scored on back-to-back possessions, the last being a lay-up for Greg Monroe with Smart on the assist which gave Boston its first double-digit lead 88-77.
So much of the focus leading up to Game 2 centered around James, and understandably so. After Boston’s 25-point thumping in Game 1, James has shown the ability to bounce back with monster games and most important, win.
He delivered in a big way for the Cavs, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics now find themselves two wins away from advancing to the NBA Finals, a place where few outside the Celtics’ payroll would have expected this team to be after losing Gordon Hayward five minutes into the season and later, no Kyrie Irving for all of the playoffs.
But here they are, on the cusp of doing the seemingly unthinkable which has in so many ways, been one of the few constants with the Celtics this season.