Playoffs 2017: East Finals -- Celtics (1) vs. Cavaliers (2)

Cleveland Cavaliers eager to play in front of home crowd

Cavaliers' playoff dominance has caused large gaps between home dates

CLEVELAND – Rust or rest hasn’t been a concern for the Cleveland Cavaliers in breezing to a 10-0 record against Indiana, Toronto and now Boston in their quest to return to the Finals and repeat as NBA champions.

Now we’ll see about their fans.

While the Cavaliers have enjoyed, and put to good use the long gaps between each of their playoff rounds, their fans have had to wait, patiently or otherwise. Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavs’ downtown home, has been dark way more than it’s been lit. And the thunderous, sometimes intimidating atmosphere generated in the building has contributed to only four of their six victories so far.

Between Game 2 against the Pacers and the opener of the conference semifinals against the Raptors, the Q went 13 days without firing up Humongotron, the massive video scoreboard, on the Cavs’ behalf. From their Game 2 victory over Toronto to Sunday’s Game 3 against the Celtics, another 17 days will have passed.

And unless Boston surprises the NBA by winning not once but twice in the next three games to force a return to The Land for Game 6, local fans will have wait another two weeks after Tuesday’s Game 4 in these East finals to get the Golden State Warriors to town for the Finals’ third (June 7) and fourth (June 9) games.

It’s almost as if the defending champions are playing peekaboo with their most ardent supporters – except that’s just how the schedule has broken this spring. A year ago, the Cavs had gaps of 11, 12 and 10 days between home games, slightly shorter because they held the East’s No. 1 seed and opened every conference series at The Q.

“It is going to be fun, and the crowd is certainly going to be excited and happy to see us back,” center Tristan Thompson said after Cleveland went up 2-0 Friday.

The Cavaliers jumped on the Celtics early at TD Garden, taking away much of what No. 1-seeded Boston had hoped would be a home-court advantage. Now, on top of point guard and leading scorer Isaiah Thomas’ absence due to a right hip injury, the Celtics won’t even have that.

The Cavs went 31-10 at The Q in the regular season, compared to 20-21 on the road. So, there is something extra going on when they’re home.

“What stands out is our fans, obviously,” LeBron James said after his team’s Sunday morning shootaround. “Our fans give us support. They give us excitement. When you make a big play, they get excited just as much as we do. And sometimes they carry us.

“So we just try to do what we can do to give them something to cheer about.”

And tide them over till the next time.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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