BOSTON — It didn’t take long for the Cleveland Cavaliers to show which team was going to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
They attacked the Boston Celtics right from the get-go, closing the first quarter with a 32-18 lead. The Cavs shot 12-for-20 from the field, including a 4-for-9 mark from 3-point range over the first 12 minutes. The Celtics, meanwhile, shot just 6-for-21 and hit two of their nine 3-point attempts. C’s guards Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley combined to shoot 2-for-10 in the quarter.
“They got it going early,” Celtics center Al Horford said. “We missed some good looks that just didn’t go down for us. We put ourselves in a hole early.”
That early hole was too much for the Celtics to overcome in a 130-86 loss to fall behind 0-2 in the series.
Losing the first quarter, especially by double-digits, is incredibly difficult to recover from against a Cavs squad arguably playing its best basketball of the season.
LeBron James is playing out of his mind — he has now scored at least 30 points in eight straight playoff games — but he’s getting plenty of help from his teammates, too.
Cleveland has received 20-plus points from three different starters in both games this series. The Cavs also shot 19-for-39 from beyond the arc in Game 2, a not-too-surprising number for a team that surrounds James with some of the league’s best long-distance shooters.
The Cavs’ abundance of good shooters is a primary reason why they’re averaging 116.3 points and converting on 42.6 percent of their attempts from 3-point land in the playoffs. Boston can’t afford to start games shooting poorly because it doesn’t have the offensive firepower to mount a large comeback against Cleveland.
“We have a very uphill climb but I still think we can pull things off,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “I just think we have to come out and click on all cylinders. We still haven’t done that. We just have to have the mindset that we have to come out and be aggressive no matter what the matchup is or whatever the scenario is. We just got to attack the ball and I think we’ll be fine.”
Here are some other notes from Cavs-Celtics Game 2.
— Celtics starters scored just 46 points, although Isaiah Thomas didn’t play in the second half because of a right hip strain that reportedly is considered significant. The Cavs’ starting five scored 90 points.
— Game 2 was the Celtics’ worst playoff loss in 22 years.
— The Cavs’ 130 points are a franchise record for a playoff game.
— James is 20-0 in playoff series during which his team takes a 2-0 lead.
— James now is 18 steals behind Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen’s playoff record.
— The Cavaliers have won 13 consecutive playoff games dating back to Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. That ties the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA record for consecutive playoff victories.
Barring a shocking conference finals comeback by the Celtics or San Antonio Spurs, it looks like the Cavs and Golden State Warriors will meet for a record third consecutive NBA Finals.
— Jumping out to huge leads on the Celtics hasn’t been a problem for the Cavs this season.
The Cavaliers built a 31-point lead in the second quarter, which was the largest deficit the C’s had faced all season. Cleveland’s largest lead of Game 2 was 50 points early in the fourth quarter. The Cavs have not trailed for a single second in this series.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images