Celtics

Stars, studs, duds: Jaylen Brown does his best to keep pace with LeBron James

Stars, studs, duds: Jaylen Brown does his best to keep pace with LeBron James

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 107-94 Game 2 win over Cleveland.

STARS

LeBron James: For most of the game, LeBron James was all that and then some for the Cavaliers. He delivered a super-sized triple-double of 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. However, most of James’ scoring came in the first quarter when he scored 21 points.

Jaylen Brown: While Brown didn’t dominate the scoring the way James did, there was no denying Brown’s play had a major impact on Boston taking a 2-0 series lead. He led the Celtics with 23 points on 9-for-18 shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists and one steal.

Kevin Love: Cleveland got a really solid game from Kevin Love offensively as he tallied a double-double of 22 points on 9-for-18 shooting to go along with a game-high 15 rebounds. However, his defensive struggles – especially when having to guard Al Horford – was once again a major problem for the Cavs. 

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STUDS

Marcus Smart: Once again, it was Marcus Smart finding a way to deliver on several levels by doing what he does well – make winning plays. He tallied a near double-double with 11 points and nine assists without a single turnover not to mention a game-high four steals.

Al Horford: The Cavaliers had no answer for Horford down the stretch. He finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds which included eight points and five rebounds in the decisive fourth quarter.

Terry Rozier: Boston’s turnaround in Game 2 began in the third quarter, and it was Rozier’s scoring that led the way. Rozier scored 18 points, 14 of which came in the third quarter which is when Boston outscored Cleveland 36-22.

DUDS

J. R. Smith: Other than him and Marcus Smart getting into it after Smith fouled Al Horford with a two-hand shove to the back on a lob pass, Smith was nowhere to be found all game. He was scoreless on the night, missing all seven of his shot attempts.

George Hill: He too was a major non-factor for the Cavaliers, scoring just three points while missing three of his four field goal attempts.

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Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Other than LeBron Watch, Kawhi Watch will likely be the most captivating Watch of the NBA offseason,  and there's obviously a chance the two end up in the same place. Regardless of what happens with LeBron, I've officially decided where I want Kawhi to land. 

Cleveland. 

I've got my reasons, but I'll start with why I'm not clamoring for the C's to get one of the five best players in the league. Yes, the C's can offer the best package, but I don't want them to make an offer the Spurs can't refuse. I don't want them to trade Jaylen Brown and the Sacramento pick for a flight risk. I don't want them to trade Kyrie Irving. I want them to be loaded, as they currently are, and set to add to that in the future. 

Leonard supposedly wants to be traded to the Lakers. The more well-connected basketball reporters have noted the Spurs wouldn't have any motivation to turn the Lakers into a Western Conference powerhouse, which makes sense. 

So, if it's not going to be the Lakers, make it the Cavaliers. 

This might sound ridiculous, but I want LeBron James to be a character in this Celtics group's run. One of the things that made the 2017-18 Celtics' run so exciting was that it culminated in a showdown with LeBron, the best player in the league and the centerpiece of great Celtics series past. 

I don't want the Celtics to go on runs with LeBron in a different time zone. I want battling (and beating) the best player of this generation to be part of what the Tatum Era does. If the Cavs can land Leonard, maybe that will keep James from bolting in free agency. 

They're also rumored to be inquiring about Kemba Walker's availability from Charlotte to help surround LeBron with another star.

To be fair, I wrote last week that I'm fine with LeBron going to the Lakers and even forming a super team with Kawhi and Paul George. That's because I think either that team or the Warriors would be all tuckered out by the time they got to the finals against a Celtics team that just waltzed through the East. 

That wouldn't be as fun though, especially if the Lakers kept getting eliminated by Golden State. If the Celtics have another championship run coming during the final years of LeBron's career, I want it to involve a Kyrie/LeBron matchup. I certainly want it to involve a competitive underdog, and I don't trust the 76ers for that yet. Considering they probably wouldn't be able to get much else, a team of LeBron, Kawhi and a bunch of junk still wouldn't be favored against the Celtics at full health. 

If LeBron goes somewhere West this offseason, I'd still want the Cavs to get Kawhi. Assuming Kawhi actually plays, he'd at least keep the Cavaliers a playoff team and an interesting opponent. 

Could the Cavaliers actually get Kawhi? I don't see why not. If his status as a player who can opt out after next season scares some teams away, the eighth overall pick and whatever they could get for Kevin Love would already make their offer better than whatever the Lakers would try to scrape together. Sacramento could always trump everyone by offering the second overall pick for Leonard, but that would be stupid. Then again, sometimes the Kings are stupid. 

Kawhi in Boston? Not at the likely price, and not if it means that much risk. LA? Predictable. Put Kawhi in Cleveland, keep the East exciting and give LeBron a real decision to make. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

1:43 - Chris Mannix joined Gary Tanguay and Kyle Draper on Early Edition to discuss if the Celtics could trade up in the draft, and if the Celtics have any chance of acquiring Kawhi Leonard.

6:35 - Phil Perry talks about Albert Breer’s report that the Patriots talked with four teams (Lions, Titans, 49ers, Texans) about trading Rob Gronkowski. We also hear from Holley, Merloni, and DJ Bean about Tom Brady commenting “cuarenta y cinco” in response to an Instagram post about when he’ll retire.

10:34 - Lou Merloni and Chris Gasper debate how important it is for the Red Sox to avoid the Wild Card play-in game and win the AL East over the Yankees. 

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE