Boston’s Big Second Half Stymies Wine & Gold

Celtics Hold Serve at Home, Put Cavaliers in Two-Game Bind
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Wrap-Up -- Weathering a third-quarter funk during the regular season is one thing. Trying to do so against a hungry squad like the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals is entirely something else.

After the Cavs took a seven-point edge into intermission, it was all Celtics from there – as Boston outscored the Wine & Gold, 59-39, in the second half, pulling away late to hand Cleveland the 107-94 loss on Tuesday night at TD Garden and take a 2-0 lead in the series.

LeBron James was spectacular in the loss, but he didn’t get a ton of help outside of Kevin Love. A perfect snapshot of that was the first quarter, when James scored 21 of his 42 points in the opening period and Cleveland led by just four, 27-23.

The game was physical throughout, and Boston’s physicality began to frustrate the Wine & Gold in the second half – culminating with JR Smith shoving Al Horford in the back on a layup attempt, drawing a flagrant foul with just under four minutes to play.

With only three ties and two lead-changes in the ballgame, Tuesday’s loss was undoubtedly a tale of two halves.

In the opening stanza, the Cavaliers led for nearly all of it – taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 11 late in the second quarter. But Boston was all business after the break, shooting 56 percent from the floor in the third period and outscoring Cleveland by two touchdowns heading to the fourth quarter.

LeBron spelled out the problem when asked about that fateful stretch.

”Turnovers and not defending full shot clock, especially in that third quarter,” said James. “We've had our third quarter woes this whole season, and tonight was another example of that.”

The Celtics would score the first four points of the fourth and quashed any Cavalier comeback attempt from there.

Cleveland got to within six on LeBron’s 17-footer with 4:42 to play. But Smith’s foul on Horford ignited the soft-spoken center, who would score the game’s next eight points to put things essentially out of reach.

James posted his fifth 40-point game of the 2018 postseason and third triple-double – going off for 42 points on 16-for-29 shooting, including 5-of-11 from three-point range to go with a game-high 12 assists, 10 boards and a block.

But even the four-time MVP’s night wasn't exactly perfect. He led both teams with six turnovers (bringing his total to 13 through the first two games) and was just 5-of-10 from the stripe.

Kevin Love was very good, moving back to the 4 with Tristan Thompson getting the start at center. On the night, the five-time All-Star finished with 22 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, going 9-of-18 from the floor and 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.

”I think you can actually take a lot from the Boston Celtics,” said Love. “They had all their starters in double-figures, and that comes a lot, I think, with not only [Brad] Stevens putting them in the right position but their level of activity. They move the ball, they continue to cut.”

The only other Cavalier to notch double-figures was Kyle Korver, who tallied all 11 of his points in the first half – going 4-of-8 from the floor, 2-of-5 from long-distance in the loss.

Boston had no such problem with scoring distribution – with all five starters plus Marcus Smart scoring in double-figures. Jaylen Brown led the way with 23 points and former Shaker Heights star Terry Rozier adding 18 as the Celtics’ starting backcourt outscored Cleveland’s tandem of George Hill and JR Smith by a combined total of 41-3.

Kevin Love


Kevin Love tallies double-double in Game 2 victory.

The Celtics played at a much more urgent pace than Cleveland on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers actually out-shot Boston, 46 percent to 43 percent, with each team canning 10 triples. But Brad Stevens’ squad had 12 more attempts while shooting 85 percent from the stripe compared to just 59 percent for the Wine & Gold. Cleveland also committed 15 turnovers to just six for the Celtics.

Turning Point -- A cursory glance would tell you that the third period (and second half) were the Wine & Gold’s undoing. But it was actually a seemingly harmless 4-0 run to end the first half that set the tone for Cleveland’s collapse.

Jeff Green drilled a three-pointer with 42 seconds remaining in the second quarter to put the Cavaliers up 11 – 55-44 – as Boston’s crowd sat silent. But Marcus Morris scored on the Celtics’ next possession and, following a LeBron turnover, scored again on a short bank shot.

Green turned the ball over on the Cavs last possession and The Garden was re-energized heading into halftime. In the third quarter, things began coming apart for the defending Conference champs.

By the Numbers528 … postseason boards that Kevin Love has grabbed as a Cavalier, moving him past Zydrunas Ilgauskas and into third place on the franchise’s all-time Playoff rebounding list.

QuotableCoach Tyronn Lue, on Boston’s physicality in Game 2 …

”We've got to be tougher. I think they're playing tougher than we are. We see that. They're being physical. They're gooning the game up, and we've got to do the same thing. We've got to be tougher, mentally and physically.”

Up Next -- After falling behind by two games in the Conference Finals on Tuesday night in Boston, the series returns to the North Coast for a pair – beginning with a Saturday night (5/19) showdown at The Q for Game 3. Game 4 goes down on Tuesday night (5/21) in Cleveland before heading back to Beantown next Wednesday (5/23). If necessary, Game 6 is back in The Land next Friday (5/25) and returns to TD Garden for Game 7 next Sunday (5/27) – all games, 8:30 p.m. ET.

Calls of the Game

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: LeBron James and Kevin Love - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James and forward Kevin Love spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

Cavs at Celtics Game 2 - May 15, 2018

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#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: LeBron James and Kevin Love - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James and forward Kevin Love spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
May 16, 2018  |  08:33

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: Tristan Thompson - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
May 15, 2018  |  03:06

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: JR Smith - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers guard JR Smith spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
May 15, 2018  |  04:21

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: Kyle Korver - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
May 15, 2018  |  02:12

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Postgame: Coach Lue - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Tuesday's Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
May 15, 2018  |  06:31

LeBron James (42 points) Highlights vs. Boston Celtics

LeBron James tallies 42 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 12 assists as the Cavs fall to the Celtics in Game 2.
May 15, 2018  |  00:00

GAME RECAP: Celtics 107, Cavaliers 94

Jaylen Brown scores 23 points to lead a balanced Celtics attack over LeBron James' 42-point triple-double as the Celtics take Game 2, 107-94.
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LBJ with the Big Block

LeBron James tracks down Terry Rozier and sends his layup attempt into the crowd.
May 15, 2018  |  00:14

LeBron Feeds KLove for the Alley-Oop Finish

LeBron James finds Kevin Love for the high-handoff finish.
May 15, 2018  |  00:09

LeBron with the Reverse And-One

LeBron James gets past the Celtics defense and finishes the reverse layup, plus the foul.
May 15, 2018  |  00:20

LBJ Finds KLove for the And-One

LeBron James finds a cutting Kevin Love under the basket for the hoop and the harm.
May 15, 2018  |  00:25

LBJ Dimes Tristan for the Slam

LeBron James drops the pocket pass to Tristan Thompson who finishes with the slam.
May 15, 2018  |  00:15

KLove Converts the And-One

LeBron James throws the long outlet pass to Kevin Love who converts the layup, plus the foul.
May 15, 2018  |  00:22

Korver with the Hoop and the Harm

Kyle Korver comes off the screen and cans the jumper, plus the foul.
May 15, 2018  |  00:08

LBJ with the Impossible Fadeaway

LeBron James hits the incredible fall-away jumper as the shot clock expires in this ‘More Driven Highlight’ driven by Goodyear.
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Featured Highlight: KLove with the Slam

Kevin Love takes the dish from LeBron James and powers home the slam over Aron Baynes.
May 15, 2018  |  00:10

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Shootaround: LeBron James - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media prior to Tuesday's Game 2 shootaround at TD Garden in Boston.
May 15, 2018  |  04:47

#CavsCeltics Game 2 Shootaround: Coach Lue - May 15, 2018

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media prior to Tuesday's Game 2 shootaround at TD Garden in Boston.
May 15, 2018  |  05:45

Cavs.com Gets You Hyped for Game 2 at Boston

Cavs.com and KeyBank get you ready for Game 2 of the Wine & Gold's Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Boston Celtics.
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Kevin Love Checks in from Monday's Practice

Cavaliers forward/center Kevin Love spoke with the media following Monday's practice at TD Garden as the Wine & Gold prep for Game 2 against the Celtics.
May 14, 2018  |  03:51

Tristan Thompson on Being Ready for Game 2

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with the media following Monday's practice at TD Garden as the Wine & Gold prep for Game 2 against the Celtics.
May 14, 2018  |  04:04

Coach Lue on Game 2 Adjustments

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Monday's practice at TD Garden as the Wine & Gold prep for Game 2 against the Celtics.
May 14, 2018  |  04:35