After trailing for 44 minutes in Boston and losing a Game 1 Mother’s Day massacre, LeBron and Ty Lue have to go back to the lab and cook up something to win Game 2, because it’s must-win for the Cavs.
The last time LeBron trailed 2-0 in a series in the East was the 2006 playoffs against the Pistons. LeBron was 21, having carried a bad team – Larry Hughes or Zydrunas Ilgauskas was Cleveland’s 2nd best player – to 50 wins. The Pistons had four all-stars.
The Cavs won the next three games, but lost the series, getting thumped on the road in Game 7, 79-61. LeBron started great in that one, but had nothing in the tank in the 2nd half:
LeBron’s modus operandi against Indiana this year in the first round was get others involved early, then take over in the 2nd half. In Game 7, he didn’t want to waste time, and it was his show, scoring 45 points in a narrow home win.
Because of what everyone saw against Toronto last round – total domination – nobody gave the Celtics a chance. I was on an island last week on FS1 in saying the Celtics are gonna be in this, and it’ll go seven games:
We’re only one game into the series, and of course LeBron could go postal and the Cavs win the next four. But can he? Even when noted LeBron Stopper Marcus Morris got in early foul trouble in Game 1, Boston still held the East’s best player to 15 points on 16 shots and he had seven of Cleveland’s nine turnovers.
In an effort to defend LeBron, I actually think he was feeling the Celtics out, and reading the game more than attacking it in Game 1. He was looking at Boston’s defensive rotations, and studying them, and preparing for Game 2. This is not to say or suggest LeBron “didn’t try” or “punted” in Game 1 – he knows they just need one win in Boston, and given they were down double digits for 95% of the game, I think he was gathering intel more than he was trying to carry Cleveland back from the depths when the game was mostly a blowout. Had the Cavs cut it to single digits, I believe Killer Instinct LeBron would have taken over in an effort – much like Game 1 in Toronto – where the door was ajar, so he kicked it down. It was never ajar in Game 1 in Boston.
Is Ty Lue a good enough coach to find a way to get Korver and Love loose? Because if not them, who else? Rodney Hood (11 points) and Jordan Clarkson (10 points) looked good on paper when Cleveland traded for them; in the playoffs, neither has been a factor. Both are better individual scorers than Korver and Love, but Brad Stevens will take Hood and Clarkson playing ISO ball all series if he gets the chance.
Game 2 is must-win for the Cavs because Cleveland doesn’t need three days of “LeBron is Gone” chatter thanks to an 0-2 hole.