3 adjustments the Cavs could make for Game 2

Annette Crawford
May 18, 2018

"I think they had a great game plan in Game 1, and he was the start of it", James said. Imagine Jake LaMotta taunting Sugar Ray Robinson with, "I never went down, Ray". When you get the media to clap in the middle of scrambling to finish deadline stories, you know you've done something impressive.

Either way, both James and his seven-consecutive-finals streak took a shot to the face in the Cavs' 107-94 loss to the Celtics in Game 2 on Tuesday that really hurt. "I've been down before in the postseason", he reminisced.

More than ever, they are dependent on their superstar, which could spell doom for them as Brad Stevens' Celtics appear, at least through one game, to have answers defensively that put the onus on James' teammates more than anyone in Cleveland would like.

James shrugged at reporters trying to get into the root of Sunday's blowout.

In the 2015 second round, the Cavs lost Game 1 to the Bulls, 99-92 at home, with James putting up 19 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists on 9-of-22 shooting.

Later, James was asked to explain the start of the fourth quarter, when the Celtics stretched a 14-point lead to 21 in the first 68 seconds. Boston was able to get every open look the team wanted while limiting LeBron James' Cavs to 83 points on 36 percent shooting. The Celtics are not scared to go toe-to-toe with a team that has ruled the East with an iron fist since LeBron James' arrival in 2014 - and for good reason. And for all the factors that explained the turnover in Boston last summer-Isaiah Thomas's hip complicated his future, salary concerns made Avery Bradley untenable long-term-it isn't an accident that the team assembled in the past 12 months is suddenly equipped with several different solutions to the LeBron problem.

On the eve of Game 1 on Saturday, Marcus Morris declared himself to be the best "Bron defender" this side of Kawhi Leonard. He had a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Game-1 victory. "They have been showing it all year", Morris said.

It's hard to imagine the Celtics, who built a 28-point lead at one point, playing any better than they did on Sunday.

The answer to the most confounding question of this generation - How do you stop the greatest player in the game? - can not be solved by one studious defender.

"I expect him to have a big response", Kevin Love said Monday. "Their shooters around him won't have many games like that". Sunday was about more than sorcery from Brad Stevens and Marcus Smart's lack of fear.

"We've got a lot of room to improve", Stevens said. "That's the way it goes".

Now the Celtics have something positive to build off of against the Cavs going into Game 2 tonight.

On the perimeter, Celtics continually shade over to him in an effort to affect his driving lanes but he rarely pushed the issue off-the-dribble. The Cavs made only 15 percent of their treys - 4 for 26.

More than anything, the Cavaliers can take solace in James bouncing back from one of the worst play-off performances of his career.

The memory of this game one humiliation will stick with LBJ and the Cavaliers will hope that it leads to a better performance from the four-time MVP in Tuesday night's critical game two.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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