Celtics

Must-read recap: Celtics halfway to sweep after Game 2 win

Must-read recap: Celtics halfway to sweep after Game 2 win

WHAT HAPPENED? 

LeBron James scored 21 points in the first quarter and the Celtics didn't have anyone but Jaylen Brown going. It could not have been more obvious the Celtics would just get those other guys going then win. 

THEN WHAT HAPPENED? 

The Celtics got everyone else going and won, 107-94. Jayson Tatum had nine points in the second quarter. Terry Rozier had 14 in the third as the C's outscored Cleveland, 36-22, and took the lead. Al Horford did absolutely everything in the fourth. Brown finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists. 

SO LEBRON WAS BETTER BUT THE CAVS STILL LOST? 

You bet. LeBron was amazing, actually. He finished with a triple double on 42 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. 

WHICH KEVIN LOVE WAS KEVIN LOVE? 

Timberwolves Kevin Love

Love had 22 points and 15 rebounds. He did his job. 

SO IF LEBRON AND LOVE WERE GOOD, WHAT THE HELL DID THE REST OF THE CAVALIERS DO? 

Absolutely nothing. The rest of their starters totaled 11 points. With the exception of Kyle Korver hitting a couple of 3s, the bench wasn't anything special, either. This game was Exhibit A of the Cavs just not having the horses after LeBron (and perhaps Love). 

BEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE OF THE GAME

Marcus Smart tipping in a rebound of a Tatum shot to get the Celtics lead to 11 with 6:10 remaining. 

WORST MOMENT OF MY LIFE OF THE GAME

That split second when I thought the Celtics might lose a game because Kyle Korver outplayed Jayson Tatum. That or when Jeff Green blocked a Greg Monroe shot. Get all of that out of my life. 

DID THE CAVS STINK ON DEFENSE? 

In fact... 

HOW MUCH DID THE CAVALIERS MISS KYRIE? 

I had to remake this graphic to make Kyrie's arms bigger to illustrate how much the Cavs miss Kyrie. Their starting backcourt had three points. 

HOW MUCH DID THE CELTICS MISS KYRIE?

It's wild to think, but the Celtics were never really hurting for a great individual performance for much of the night. Jaylen was the constant, but the spurts from guys like Tatum and Rozier gave the Celtics all the star power they needed. 

LET'S TAKE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT THE MARCUSES

It's never just about the points for Marcus Smart (he had 11). It's about how he defended (four steals) and how some of those points came. Even before that fourth-quarter tip-in, Smart hit a three-pointer in the third quarter to give the Celtics their first lead since the beginning of the game. 

Also, Marcus Morris screamed at Tristan Thompson after making a shot and everyone made it into a meme about how he cheated on a Kardashian. I did not understand it but everyone seemed to have a lot of fun with it. 

LEBRON VS. TATUM CONN SMYTHE WATCH

Tatum did not look good at all in the first quarter, while LeBron was incredible. Tatum ended up turning it on, but LeBron clearly had the better game. Fun fact, though: They don't give the Conn Smythe to a guy who lost in the conference finals. LeBron's two losses away. 

Also, Tatum hit LeBron in the face by accident. Everyone's OK.

IS THE DREW BLEDSOE THING STILL A THING? 

Indeed. 

WHEN IS GAME 3? 

Sometime in 2021. 

And the latest star trying to dunk on Aron Baynes will be ...

And the latest star trying to dunk on Aron Baynes will be ...

BOSTON -- We don’t know when it’ll happen, but we know it’s happening.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to take off from somewhere outside of the paint for a dunk.

He’s going to go into sky-high mode, soaring through the air with the grace and size of condor only to have Boston’s Aron Baynes standing between him and yet another above-the-rim highlight reel.

In a playoff series that will surely have its share of subplots and twists throughout, here’s one more.

When will Antetokounmpo try and dunk on Aron Baynes?

Because we know as much as Antetokounmpo soars high and above most defenders with ease, Baynes isn’t one to back down or step aside so you can posterize him with a powerful jam which has become almost a given every night when he's on the floor.

“I don’t know; it must be the hair,” quipped Baynes in an earlier interview with NBC Sports Boston. “They don’t like my haircut; that’s what it is.”

But being more serious, Baynes added, “My job is to make their shot attempt as hard as possible. That’s not happening if I’m standing there watching them go off and dunk it. I try to get there even if I’m out of position, try to get my body in the right place to make it that bit tougher.”

In a more recent interview with NBC Sports Boston during Boston’s first-round series against the Pacers, Baynes said he doesn’t put a ton of planning into how he plans to defend players who try and dunk on him.

“I don’t really think much about it when I’m out there,” Baynes told NBC Sports Boston. “I just know I got a job to do, just like those guys have a job to do. It’s always fun!”

And not easy for either to get what they want during the inevitable mid-air collision.

“They see me as a challenge; I see them as a challenge,” Baynes said. “We try and meet up top and see how it goes.”

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Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) out Games 1 and 2 for Bucks

Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) out Games 1 and 2 for Bucks

BOSTON -- Misery loves company, right?

The Boston Celtics won’t be alone in their second-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks when it comes to beginning it without one of their top guards.

Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, sidelined with torn plantar fascia injury suffered last month, has been ruled out for Games 1 and 2 of the Bucks’ Conference semi-final matchup against the Celtics.

Even without Brogdon, the Bucks (60-22) still managed to finish the regular season with the best record in the NBA and with that, home court advantage as long as they are in the playoffs.

As expected, the Bucks cruised through their first-round series with Detroit which ended with a four-game sweep of the Pistons.

However, Milwaukee is eager to get Brogdon back on the floor against the Celtics in large part because of his ability to excel at both ends of the floor.

Having him available provides the Bucks with another defensive body that can make Kyrie Irving work harder for his shots than he would otherwise.

In addition, Brogdon has the ability on offense to impact the game on multiple levels and has been a tough cover for the Celtics in past years.

The 2017 NBA Rookie Of the Year averaged a career-high 15.6 points this past season.

But just as significant, he became only the eighth player in NBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (50.5 percent), 40 percent on 3’s (42.6 percent) and 90 percent (92.8) from the free throw line.

The Bucks have indicated that he will be evaluated again prior to Game 3.

The outlook isn’t nearly as optimistic for one of Boston’s top guards, Marcus Smart, who will also be out for the start of the Conference Semifinals.

Unlike Brogdon, Smart (torn oblique) is considered a long shot to return to action during this series and if he did, it likely wouldn’t be until Game 6 or 7 and that would be an extremely optimistic/hopeful timeline.

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