BOSTON — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers know they have to be better in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
The Boston Celtics appear ready for just that.
“I thought our guys played with a good aggression tonight. Going to have to play better Tuesday [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-andre-reed-jersey]Andre Reed Jersey[/url] ,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the 108-83 rout in the series opener — a game blown open in the first quarter.
“I have zero level of concern at this stage,” James said after the Celtics blew the Cavs out in the opening game — a rare poor playoff outing for James. “I didn’t go to college, so it’s not March Madness.”
Translation: one win does not a series make.
The Celtics, who keep handling every situation thrown at them regardless of who might be available to play, know what they are likely to be up against in Game 2.
Boston is 8-0 at home in these playoffs.
Before Sunday’s game, a video on the big board highlighted “experts” doubting these Celtics in the postseason. After all, there’s no Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward, with valuable rookie bench center Daniel Theis also gone.
“I would say it has (driven them),” said Marcus Morris, one of the guys who made life miserable for James in Game 1. “It gave other guys opportunity to step up. It’s very unfortunate that we had those injuries, but no one is going to feel sorry for us at the end of the day, so we have to take our approach of next guy up.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all season.”
If you need evidence of Boston’s team effort leading to the 9-4 playoff record, here it is: Jayson Tatum leads the team at 18.6 points per game, but Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are both at 17.4, Al Horford at 17.2, Morris 12.9 and Marcus Smart 10.4.
That is balance [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-matt-slauson-jersey]Matt Slauson Jersey[/url] , meaning they don’t have to rely on one or two players — as Cleveland does with James and Kevin Love.
“We’ve got to help ‘Bron,” JR Smith said after the opener. “We can’t just expect him to do everything. As role players, we’ve got to play our role.”
James came in averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game in the playoffs but was lifted with 7:10 left in the blowout. He was 5 of 16 from the floor and had seven of his team’s 10 turnovers in his 15-point game.
The Cavs missed their first 14 3-pointers and finished 4 of 26 from behind the arc.
“Three-point shot is a part of our DNA,” James said. “It’s what makes us the best team that we can be. I think even early on with the shots that we had, we had some wide-open looks that just didn’t go. I think in the first quarter, J.R. and Kev, (George Hill), they had some great looks, they just didn’t go.
“We’re OK with that. We’re absolutely OK with that. And we’re going to take those same looks going into Game 2 if the opportunity presents itself.”
The Cavaliers, coming off a layoff that followed a four-game sweep of the Toronto Raptors, offered little resistance in the opener. They missed their shots, lost their men on defense and allowed a whopping 60 points in the paint.
“You definitely have to adjust. That’s what part of the playoff series is about,” James said. “The teams adjusting from game to game and seeing ways you can be better. I think that’s an obvious question.”
The Celtics have taken 2-0 leads in both of their previous series and, even though they needed seven games to dispose of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, they can rely on the franchise being 37-0 all time when taking a 2-0 lead in a series.
But that’s history [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-devontae-booker-jersey]Devontae Booker Jersey[/url] , and this edition of the proud franchise is clearly more about the present.
“I think we’re very alert to the fact that we’ll get a heavyweight punch on Tuesday night,” Stevens said.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue indicated Monday that he may insert Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup in a bid to neutralize Al Horford, one of several Celtics to dominate in Game 1.
“He’s our rock,” Stevens said of Horford, who has also averaged 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per game in the playoffs. “He’s the guy we really, really lean on.”
Thompson, who played well and had eight points and 11 rebounds in less than 21 minutes in the opener, issued a bit of a warning on behalf of James, saying, “Usually when LeBron has these kind of games, the next game he does something legendary.”
Shohei Ohtani’s third start for the Los Angeles Angels lasted only two innings after he developed a blister on his pitching hand.
The Angels pulled the Japanese two-way sensation early after he yielded three runs and four hits while struggling with his control against the AL-leading Boston Red Sox.
One inning after Ohtani left, the Angels announced the right-hander had developed a blister during the second inning.
Ohtani has had intermittent issues with blisters throughout his first few months with the Angels, and he had a bandage on one of his fingers last week.
Ohtani gave up a leadoff homer to Boston’s Mookie Betts, and he couldn’t throw his formidable breaking pitches for consistent strikes in the first night start of his big-league career. The Red Sox added two more runs in the second on Brock Holt’s RBI single and Andrew Benintendi’s sacrifice fly.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Brayden McNabb scored against his former team in the second period [url=http://www.cowboyscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-jay-novacek-jersey]Jay Novacek Jersey[/url] , lifting Vegas to a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings that made the Golden Knights the first expansion team in NHL history to sweep its first playoff series.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned in another stellar performance, stopping 31 shots as the Knights finished off their fourth one-goal victory of the series. It was his second shutout of the series.
The Knights poured into the net to hug Fleury at the final horn. Vegas fans in the crowd chanted the goalie’s name in celebration.
The Knights became the second team to win their first four playoff games, joining the 1970 Pittsburgh Penguins.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford says he expects ”substantive” recommendations from the committee seeking ways to reform college basketball amid a federal investigation of corruption in the sport.
Speaking Tuesday at a regional Associated Press Sports Editors meeting, Swofford said he doesn’t know what the commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will conclude next week when it is expected to present its report to the Division I Board of Directors and Board of Governors.
Swofford said it is ”hard to argue against the need for substantive change.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, speaking at a similar meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, on Monday, hopes for an ”impactful outcome” when Rice’s committee releases its recommendations.
MOSCOW (AP) – FIFA charged World Cup host Russia with fan racism less than two months before the tournament begins.
Monkey chants were aimed at black French players, including Paul Pogba, during France’s 3-1 friendly win over Russia in St. Petersburg last month.
”Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union for this incident,” FIFA said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is overseeing World Cup preparations, told state news agencies on Tuesday that Russia was cracking down on racist fans.
”We’ll do anything so there are no discrimination cases,” he said. ”But if that happens … there should be zero tolerance for these people.”
The RFU said it is cooperating with the FIFA investigation.
DETROIT (AP) – A Michigan company has filed a federal lawsuit against LeBron James, claiming his digital media platform stole an idea.
Adventure Enterprise is suing ”Uninterrupted [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-akiem-hicks-jersey]Akiem Hicks Jersey[/url] ,” which was co-founded by James with business partner Maverick Carter, and Cree Nix for use of a ”Shop Talk,” concept.
The Detroit-based company claims it shared the idea with Nix from 2014 to 2016, identifying her as an employee of ”Uninterrupted.”
Last year, ”Uninterrupted” aired ”The Shop,” where James and others talk in a barber shop.
Alabama recently released a trailer for ”Shop Talk” that shows coach Nick Saban and former Crimson Tide star wide receiver Julio Jones talking in a barber shop. Earlier this month, ”Uninterrupted” sent a letter to Alabama , citing concerns over copyright infringement and intellectual property.
The Associated Press Sports Editors organization has recommended that its members refrain from covering USA Wrestling events after the federation said it will now require journalists to undergo a background check in order to cover its events.
APSE President Jeff Rosen, sports editor of The Kansas City Star, said in an email Tuesday that the new policy ”while probably well-intentioned, is problematic on multiple levels.”
”APSE applauds the effort to protect the safety of USA Wrestling athletes, but making journalists qualify for a membership and take a course in how to identify abuse and bullying is misguided,” Rosen wrote. ”The lack of specificity on background checks, including the extent and areas of the checks, and the disposal of information and indemnification of the media is both alarming and dangerous.”
The federation said the new requirements – which will also include a mandatory hour-long U.S. Center for Safe Sports online video- are designed to increase safety in the sport.
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