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The Celtics Won Game 1 With A Complete Team Effort

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game One

I can fully understand waking up today as a Celtics fan and not only sticking to your sheets, but being pretty excited with how things went yesterday. How could you not be? With the whole basketball world talking about how Lebron was going to come into Boston and completely dominate you, that you had NO CHANCE in this series only to then go out and blow the doors off a pathetic Cavs team feels great no matter how you want to slice it up. But, before we get too ahead of ourselves and dance on any graves, it’s important to realize that Lebron has been here before. Losing Game 1 is not a death sentence for him, and the Celtics shouldn’t treat it that way. This series isn’t close to being over, and every win from here on out I would imagine is going to be much harder to obtain. The Celtics aren’t surprising anyone anymore, or at least they shouldn’t be, so to my fellow Celtics fan I would say last night was for the outrageous cocky celebrations, but moving forward it’s time to be serious. Sure teams that win Game 1 go on to win the series like 83% of the time, but try and take a deep breath. There is much more basketball to be played.

Having said all that, these Cavs stink. It’s almost as if the Cavs and their fans made a similar mistake PHI did before their series with the Celtics. Their previous series game them a false sense of confidence, because I’m sorry to tell you Cavs fans, the Celtics are not the Raptors. Just like Sixers Twitter had to learn the hard way that the Celtics were not the Heat, the same thing applies here. The Celtics do not play afraid of Lebron, and that’s like 65% of the battle. This defense is no joke, and you saw it work flawlessly in Game 1. Very few people when talking about this series heading into Game 1 wanted to talk about how the Celtics were actually a bad matchup for CLE, and that they would face many of the same issues the Sixers did trying to stop all the different options of the Celtics.

To put it simply, the Celtics exposed the Cavs in ways the Raptors never dreamed of being able to. They had a plan that worked to perfection, and this is just the beginning. Will the Celtics have more 25 point wins? It’s hard to say, but one thing we know is that this team fucks, and we should talk about it.

The Good
- For me, one of the most important players in this series for the Celtics had to be Al Horford. It’s fair to say that over his career Horford has struggled against a Lebron led team, and if the Celtics are going to win this series than they needed to get the Horford we’ve seen for the last two series. The haters didn’t want to believe it was possible….and yet

When it was all said and done, not only did Horford finish with 20/4/6 on 8-10 shooting, but he had the lowest Drtg on the team with 76.4. Safe to say he did not struggle whatsoever with Kevin Love, or Thompson, or any CLE player. Other than Terry, it was Horford who had the most touches on the team, which doesn’t really surprise me as to why the Celtics offense looked so good. When they play through Horford and allow him to be a facilitator they are extremely tough to guard. If you watch that video you notice that the Celtics did a really great job of getting Horford the ball in positions to succeed. Aside from his wide open 3PM, all 6 of his other FGM came at the rim. That is HUGE. No more getting Al the ball with 2 seconds left at the end of the shot clock and forcing him to take a tough contested 18 footer. Instead, he took his ass down low and abused the shit out of Kevin Love. Horford was 7-9 lat night while being defended by Love, a mismatch that I didn’t hear too many people talking was going to end up in BOS favor.

It will require a few more games like this before we officially declare that Horford’s Boogie Man is dead, but I could not think of a better start. It also wouldn’t shock me if the Cavs start Tristan Thompson in Game 2. It’s clear Love doesn’t want it.

– There is nothing better in sports than when a player runs his mouth and then steps in between the lines and backs it up. Well that is exactly what Marcus Morris did. Not only did he FINALLY bust out of his offensive slump

But all this talk about how Morris was a Lebron stopper doesn’t look all that funny now today does it? Morris held Lebron to just 3-10 shooting and 4 TOs while guarding him on 39 possessions. He said he was the best Lebron defender out there, and so far nobody has defended him better this postseason. I guess you can call Morris a lot of things, but you can’t call him a liar.

To say his 21/10 on 7-12 performance was huge would be a massive understatement. To me Morris is the wild card, if this or something close to this is what the Celtics are going to get from Morris, that is a huge difference maker. We all know what Good Mook looks like and what it does to open things up for everyone else. If teams have to start worrying about Morris knocking down threes, that’s going to open things up even more. You know who thrives in space? Tatum and Brown and Rozier.  The Cavs thought they could pull a fast one by going small, not realizing all they did was give Morris confidence. Chances are Morris doesn’t shoot this well in every game, but he won’t have to. As long as he defends at a high level, whatever else he gives you is gravy. It’s clear Morris is not afraid of Lebron, and that mentality is proving to be contagious. The fact that he backed it up is what makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

– Speaking of warm and fuzzy feelings, how is it possible to feel any other way when thinking about the Celtics young studs. Let’s start with Jaylen. You know the 21 year old who went out there, dropped a cool 23/8 on 9-16 shooting and looked great doing it

Jaylen presents the first big time mismatch that I don’t see the Cavs being able to figure out. Maybe you thought JR Smith would be able to slow him down, well all Jaylen did was go 2-4 against him. As expected, Brad realized the weakness in the CLE defense was Korver, and as he should, he instructed Jaylen to abuse the shit out of him. The result? He went 5-9 against Korver. Between the size, the speed, and the strength, the Cavs outside of Lebron do not have a player on this roster that can stay with Jaylen Brown in one game, let alone an entire series. It’s not hard to look great when you’re getting nothing but open layups at the rim. Look at this shot chart and tell me you aren’t at least 70% aroused. It’s not possible

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All season what did we say when it came to Jaylen. That he succeeds attacking the paint, finishing at the rim, and then shooting from the corners, specifically the left corner. Well, would you look at that.

It’s a very similar situation to PHI in that CLE wants to play their shooters because the three point shot is such a huge part of their offense. The bad news is when they are getting abused on the other end, they don’t have the legs to make those shots, and CLE as a whole crumbles. You can make an adjustment on Horford by playing more Thompson, but what’s their solve for Jaylen? Exactly. Oh, and Jaylen didn’t even have to play the fourth quarter last night. Lol.

Which brings me to our next young buck, Jayson Tatum. You may remember him, but if you blacked out because of the shit he was pulling in this game, here’s a reminder

Not bad for a 20 year old rookie. I will also ask the same question for Tatum that I did for Brown. Who exactly on this roster is going to stop Jayson Tatum. For whatever reason the Cavs refused to put Lebron on him, he guarded Tatum for only 3 possessions, and guys like Jeff Green and Rodney Hood were certainly not the answer even though they were the two who guarded him most. Tatum went 3-5 against them, on the night finished with 16/6 on 6-11 shooting, while also having a couple steals and a block. Not to mention the big time Fuck You Threes which you know I love, in Game 1 Tatum proved to be every big the matchup problem as Jaylen, and that’s not something I see stopping anytime soon. I can’t imagine the Cavs want to burn Lebron’s energy having him deal with Tatum, and if they don’t who is going to?

– The big question heading into this series was without a doubt “How do you stop Lebron”. Well, the Celtics showed you. It’s not about one guy shutting down one of the all time greats, it’s about doing it collectively as a team. Everyone from Horford, to Smart, to Morris, to Semi all played a role. While Morris did a majority of the dirty work, every other Celtic held Lebron to 2-6 shooting. The result was one of the worst playoff performances of Lebron’s career. If you told a Cavs fan that in Game 1 Lebron would have this type of performance, they’d laugh at you. Why wouldn’t they? Lebron has been on an absolute tear this entire postseason, only he’s never faced a defense like this.

Not only were the Celtics able to stop Lebron, they also shut down everyone else. Love went 5-14, JR 2-9, Korver 2-6, Clarkson 4-11, Hood 5-12, everywhere you look up and down this roster, the Cavs struggled. The Celtics did it through great switching, solid communication, and most importantly, effort. This was the energy I wanted to see, and what they’ll have to show moving forward if they want to win this series. I don’t want to call it flawless defense, but it sure was close. The Cavs finished the night with 36/15% splits and couldn’t even crack 90 points. That’s big time.

– Imagine giving a shit whether or not Marcus Smart can shoot? Couldn’t be me. Never had I been so happy with a 4-12 (1-5) performance from Marcus. As usual when it was all said and done he did a little bit of everything, finished with 9/3/6 and was a very respectable +16 in his 24 minutes. Give me a PG that can do stuff like this 10 times out of 10 I don’t care how brutal his shooting is

– You know it’s a beatdown when you win the rebounding battle, drop 60 points in the paint, win the fast break points battle, and keep the 2nd chance points close, all while turning it over just 9 times.

– I don’t know how many more 25-2 runs we’ll ever see against a Lebron James team, but holy shit was it awesome. So awesome I feel like we should all watch it again

– Any time I hear someone say coaching doesn’t matter, I remind myself that they are just jealous they don’t have Brad.

The Bad

– Listen it’s hard to nitpick in a 25 point blowout, but it wasn’t all good yesterday. For starters, we’re going to need Terry to be much, much better offensively moving forward. He shot just 4-10 from the field, and while he was great in other areas like rebounding and finding scoring opportunities for his teammates. chances are things level out a little bit for the other guys and Rozier will need to be more efficient the rest of this series.

– Jayson Tatum’s 20+ point streak ended in this game. It almost makes you wonder if he’s ever going to figure it out? Maybe we should be concerned, I dunno.

– As expected, the offensive glass was still an issue. The Cavs finished with 9 on the night, 4 of which came from Tristan Thompson. For whatever reason, the Celtics never have an answer for this guy, and it’s Lue’s dumbass fault for only playing him 21 minutes. Like I said, coaching matters.

– Yabu did not take a FGA in his 4:35 of action. He needs to be told that the second he steps onto the court, he has the biggest green light in the history of green lights. This crowd needed a Yabu three and dab more than it needed air to breathe. I guess we’ll have to wait for Game 2s blowout.

The Ugly

– It’s no surprise that the Celtics had all this momentum, came out in the 3rd quarter with the wrong energy, and all the sudden things got close. By close I just mean 14 points but you know what I mean. Their offense went to shit mostly because they stopped attacking, and the defense wasn’t all that better. It’s these mental lapses that the Celtics have to be careful with, because all it does is breath life into Lebron. Fortunately that quick 7-0 run to start the fourth put away any nerves, but even I can’t sit here and say watching them cut a 28 point lead down to 14 was all that surprising. The Celts always make you sweat, even when they are kicking someone’s dick in.

– Sure it was impressive what Lebron did postgame. It was also a nice little tactic to make sure THAT is what everyone was talking about after the game and this morning instead of the fact that you got your ass handed to you. I could smell that from a mile away. And how about forgetting your teammates names? Did you also forget that it was YOU who missed shots and turned it over during that stretch?

Look, one of these two teams won 55 games and was the 2 seed. All the Celtics did was play like they should have. They won at home, something that isn’t all that surprising. The surprising part was how dominant it looked, and that’s why I’m going to tell you to take the rest of today and tomorrow to enjoy this win. Game 2 is going to be an entirely different animal, and you’d be silly to think CLE is going to miss all those open looks again. If the Celtics continue to play like they did yesterday though, it won’t matter.

9 down 7 to go.