You could make the argument that the Boston Celtics should have won their game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors after taking a 26-point lead.
Tuesday’s matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers? Not so much.
LeBron James and the Cavs dominated the Celtics in every way imaginable, leaving zero doubt as they coasted to a 110-79 victory at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the worst loss of the season for Boston, which had entered the game as winners of seven of their last 11.
The Cavaliers have been on fire since James returned from his eight-game injury absence in January, but they entered Tuesday’s tilt on the heels of a two-game losing streak. They quickly went to work assuring that streak would not grow to three. The Celtics shot just 33 percent from the floor in the first and made just two field goals over the final 7:43 of the quarter. Cleveland led 31-16 after one and continued that pace in the second to take a 61-36 lead into halftime.
Cleveland’s defense looked much-improved from when these teams first met back in November — a game the Celtics lost 122-121. Boston turned the ball over eight times in the first half, and while Cleveland turned it over seven times itself, the C’s were able to turn those giveaways into just four total points.
The Celtics also struggled mightily from deep all night, going 7-for-25 from beyond the arc (five of those threes came in the fourth, after the game was well out of reach).
As for the second half … well, Luigi Datome checked in with three minutes remaining in the third, so that should tell you all you need to know.
THE REAL MVP?
Brad Stevens said before the game that James sure looks like he deserves a fifth MVP Award this season. That would be an fitting description of James’ performance against the Celtics, which pushed him past Ray Allen and into 21st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Evan Turner actually did a respectable job of defending James in the early going, but the Cavs star nailed a number of circus shots that simply rendered Turner helpless. He also did this to Avery Bradley in the final moments of the first half:
James finished with a game-high 27 points in just 26 minutes. Kyrie Irving added 18 points, five assists and two steals, and Kevin Love chipped in with 12 points and five rebounds as all five Cavs starters reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WELL
As you can deduce from the final result, not a whole lot. Brandon Bass turned in the best stat line of any Celtics player, finishing with 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting to go along with five rebounds. Isaiah Thomas (11 points) was the only other Celtic to reach double figures, but he was far less productive than he has been. As a 5-foot-9 guard, he seemed to have a lot of trouble when matched up against 6-foot-5 Iman Shumpert.
Shumpert did not score in the contest but finished with six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.
Up next: The Celtics’ schedule gets a great deal easier over the next week, as each of their next three opponents currently sit outside of the playoff picture. The Utah Jazz, who defeated Boston in late January in Salt Lake City, visit TD Garden on Wednesday.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images