Sometimes, teamwork does the job just as well.
The NBA will not discipline J.R. Smith for his foul on Al Horford in Game 2 of Eastern Conference Finals. Smart, who had been jousting with Kevin Love under the basket, swooped behind Jeff Green, who had hauled in the rebound, and managed to poke the ball free.
Smart finished with 11 points on a mere 3-of-9 shooting but added nine assists, five rebounds and four steals over 31 minutes in Boston’s 107-94 triumph in Game 2 at TD Garden.
Boston’s balanced attack was effective again, with six players reaching double figures.
Boston has excellent spot-up shooters in Terry Rozier III (1.4 points per shot), Marcus Morris (1.1) and Jaylen Brown (1.08). After cruising to a 2-0 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston is nearing an unlikely trip to the 2018 NBA Finals. Even after taking the first two games, everybody in Boston understands that it won’t mean anything if they allow Cleveland to bounce back at home and win the next two games. Why can’t James’ brilliance be enough one more time, ensuring that we receive the maximum dosage possible this season?
“We need tremendous focus”. The Indians, in not acting to fortify (primarily because of financial constraints) what had been the most unique and reliable piece of the last two years, let the hole in the pen remain.The Cavs, in trading their second-best player without getting the return he was worth, failed by commission, acting when some would say no action was the best course. “But if there is anybody I would put my money on, it would be this group”, Brown said.
To make matters worse, when it became clear that the Cavs were having second thoughts about a hip injury that wound up wiping out all but 32 games of Isaiah Thomas’ 2017-18 season, they were only able to squeeze an extra 2020 second-round pick out of the Celtics. And a fight it was largely because of the incredible influence of James during the 1st quarter, when he recorded a career-high 21 points on 13 shots and gave the Cavaliers a 27-23 lead.
His 42 points marked his fifth 40-point game of these play-offs.
“I felt like I needed to go back to the locker room, which I did, and kind of recalibrate”, James said. They also didn’t have to give in to Irving’s trade demands, no matter how strong the threat appeared at the time.
We’ll have to see if this does anything to wake the Cavs up for Saturday’s Game 3.
“We compete. It’s Celtics basketball”. The Cavaliers have to get more balance in the scoring department, something that we’ve talked about all postseason long. We’ve got a lot of different guys guarding him.
“I blatantly pushed him”, Smith said.
The Cavaliers sagged in the second half, where they were outscored 59-39 and that did not please their coach Tyronn Lue. Boston hasn’t been great on the road but they are tough defensively: Cleveland may escape with a close win here but the Celtics cover the line. Rodney Hood scored two points in 11 minutes and was a minus-7.
“I don’t think tougher”, Smith said afterward, showing better defensive instincts than during the game.