By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com
Al Horford’s 15-point, 10-rebound double-double pushes the Boston Celtics out to a two-game series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers following their, 107-94, Game 2 Eastern Conference Finals win.
The Celtics opened up the East Finals with a convincing, 108-83, Game 1 win on Sunday afternoon before welcoming the Cavs back to the TD Garden for Tuesday night’s matchup.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 9-0 at home for the NBA Playoffs and they make King James down 0-2 in a series for the first time since 2008.
The Cavaliers came into the game looking to switch things up a bit, so they gave forward Tristan Thompson the start in place of sharp-shooting guard Kyle Korver.
It quickly became the Jaylen Brown and LeBron James show in the first quarter, as James would go off for 21 points, with Tatum dropping 14.
The Cavs eventually pulled away halfway through the first thanks to James and a 13-5 run, as they’d go into the second with a, 27-23, lead.
Some of Boston’s key contributors like Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier III, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart, were all held without a point in the first.
The Celtics and Cavs would exchange blows throughout the second. But it was the Cavs who were able to build a 10-point lead late in the quarter.
With 3:34 left in the second, James headed off to the locker room after taking a shot to the head from Tatum on a drive to the basket.
But James would later return to the floor with 1:57 left in the second, as the Cavs would go up, 55-48, heading into halftime.
Boston shot 44.2 percent in the first half, while Cleveland knocked down more than 50 percent of their shots.
Rozier and the Celtics came out to play the third with true purpose.
They would go onto grind out a 14-5 run to tie things up six minutes in at 66-66, before taking their first lead since the 10:38 mark in the first after a Smart three to put the C’s up 72-71 with 4:34 left in the third.
“Scary Terry” came life in the third after scoring only two points in the first-half.
He buried some nice jimmies and threw down a hammer of a dunk, en route to scoring 14 of the Celtics’ 36-third-quarter-points, as the C’s would take an, 84-77, lead into the final quarter.
In the midst of a Celtics’ 22-10 run in the third, Morris let Thompson know what’s up after this drive to the basket.
Marcus Morris let Tristan know ???? pic.twitter.com/uBA8PPfhze— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 16, 2018
And Smart had this ridiculous finish at the rim.
The Celtics kept their foot on the gas to start the fourth, where the Cavaliers trailed by as much as 11, before the C’s held their largest lead of the night at 14.
Boston piled onto their lead following a J.R Smith ‘flagrant 1 foul’ with just 3:49 left in the game.
So Smith drew his flagrant on a reckless pushing of Horford while he was in the air trying to receive a lead pass from Smart towards the basket. After watching it you might be surprised that it didn’t end any worse for either Horford or Smith.
Ty Lue: The Celtics “were gooning it up” ???? pic.twitter.com/MvjybRLOx4— Jim Louth (@JimLouth) May 16, 2018
Following the play, Smart came running up to defend Horford and gave Smith a bump. It looked like Smart wanted to snuff Smith right in the face, but Thompson was there to pull Smart back during the scrum of extra-curricular activities.
"We have each other's backs," says Al Horford.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2018
Marcus Smart had his back tonight????
This all happened after Smart did this halfway through the quarter.
Marcus Smart ladies and gentleman. pic.twitter.com/qaWTH297tn— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 16, 2018
Horford single-handedly went on an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to put the Celtics up, 103-89, with 2:54 left in the game after nailing four free throws, including the two off the Smith technical, plus two more field goals.
The Celtics impressively held the Cavaliers to 39 second-half points as they would go onto win Game 2, 107-94.
All five Celtics starters scored in double-digits, with Brown leading the way with 23 points on 50 percent shooting, while snagging seven boards.
Morris and Tatum combined for 23 points and Rozier finished with 18 points (7-16 FG), seven boards and three assists.
Smart filled the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds, nine assists and four steals off the bench.
James finished with a 42-point, 10-rebound, 12-assist, triple-double to lead all Cleveland scorers.
Kevin Love had a double-double as well with 22 points and 15 rebounds. And Smith finished with zero points on 0-of-7 from the field (0-3 3PT).
The Celtics finished the night shooting 43.5 percent from the field, while knocking down 10-of-31 from deep.
As for the Cavaliers, they shot the same as the Celts from deep, but they shot a shade better from the field at 46.3 percent.
The Cavs out-rebounded the C’s by three, but Boston was able to force 15 Cleveland turnovers, while only turning over the ball six times in the game.
The Celtics will now head to Cleveland for Game 3 on Saturday night with a 2-0 series lead.
UP NEXT: The #2 Boston Celtics (55-27/2-0) will head to Ohio to take on the #4 Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32/0-2) on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 8:00 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m.
John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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