Recap: Cleveland 130, Boston 86 (or, the Boston Massacre)

This was one of the greatest displays of basketball dominance in NBA history, and certainly the biggest thrashing of a team in Cavalier history. Cleveland absolutely decimated Boston in a way there are not words to describe. Even the Celtics seemed to be resigned to their fate. This isn’t a recap, it’s a prose highlight reel.

When we saw that Gerald Green was going to be in the starting lineup, to make it Thomas, Bradley, Green, Crowder, and Horford, I knew the Celtics were in trouble. This team wasn’t going to be able to rebound or defend the Cavs’ front line. The First Quarter started fairly mundanely for Cleveland. Kyrie looked to get into it early with a spin into a sick lefty jump hook in the lane. Then, J.R. set a backscreen on Crowder which let LeBron get to the right side of the cup for an alley oop over the Leprechaun, oh, and Kevin hit a three.

On defense Cleveland was no longer trapping the Leprechaun (Isaiah Thomas), but showing hard with help and then recovering. Boston did not seem prepared for the tactic change. But a couple Gerald Green triples (one from an impossible angle from the left corner) kept Boston close until a Ty Lue T.O. six minutes in. Then the game was over.

Cleveland went on a 12-0 run behind stifling defense and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, rebounding, shooting, and getting to the line, beautiful fast breaks, and a defense that left Boston bewildered. The Cs did get a couple buckets after, but the ball kept humming around for Cleveland as Tristan, LeBron, and La Flama Blanca got in on the act. r. James also snuffed out any hope of a Boston rally with this demoralizing chase down block. Never go up soft with the King at your back, Avery.

After ten and a half minutes of basketball poetry, James went to the bench, and  Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier got checked in for Boston, which shows you just how far coach Stevens was reaching into his bag of “tricks.” To be fair, Jaylen was probably Boston’s best player Friday, with 19 points, but the cause was already lost. Especially when Kyrie ran up Rozier’s back for a trick nasty double clutch layup with 48 seconds left to leave the score 32-18.

In the Second Quarter our old pal, Richard Jefferson got to the line for a pair then blocked a Marcus Smart layup to kick off a 13-2 run as James drove and shot threes at will to put the Cavs up by 25 at the 7:46 mark. Cleveland was still giving no quarter defensively, and when Boston did break free, they bricked. That’s the thing about great defense. When you’re playing it, even when you blow an assignment, the other team hears footsteps, a sentiment reflected in this bitter (but oh so sweet) tweet.

Then the Boston three party started. The Love, LeBron, Shump, Deron Williams, and Irving lineup played the part of the patriots, looting their way to an 18-3 romp to make it 63-24 (not a typo). Everyone but DWill got a trey, Love dunked, LeBron got a layup. The unselfishness was off the charts, as was the glorious Boston disappointment.

I don’t like showing guys up. I’m all about respecting your opponent, but after the last two years of Beantown idiocy against the Cavs, watching LeBron and Co. rub their faces in the muck felt pretty darned good. As Tom Pestak said in his epic instacap, “I was tempted to tweet a pic of Al covering his face and trying to get out of the way to Anna Horford.”

The game stalled for the last three minutes of the half as Cleveland cooled down and Kev went 1-4 on triples. Jaylen Brown and Avery Bradley combined for seven, but at some point late, Isiah Thomas started limping down the court. “This is as good a time as any to fake an injury,” I thought. I was resigned to a 39 point lead going into the half until J.R. hit a fadeaway buzzer beater on a Hail Mary heave to make make it a freaking fourty-one point lead, 72-31.

I just had to tweet out this pic of a Cavs fan giving J.R. his props. Even Boston fans were smiling.

As we sat at halftime, we all knew we were witnessing something legendary. Cleveland was transcendent and the Celtics were reverting into a shell they never realized they’d need to crawl into. Just like Indiana and Toronto, this loss was shaping up to be franchise destroying. Tom Pestak dubbed it an “extinction level event.” Suddenly any talk of trading the number one pick for Paul George or Jimmy Butler seemed silly and pointless. When Isaiah Thomas didn’t come out to start the third, we knew it was over not just for this game, for this series, but for this incarnation of the Celtics.

The romp continued in the third quarter. LeBron kept hitting and Kyrie Irving was pwning Marcus Smart on D, and taking over on offense: getting to the line, setting up TT, and finishing with ridiculous layups. He got his stepback three rolling towards the end of the frame and hit two straight. Somewhere, Steph Curry started trembling.

LeBron took a seat for the night at the 1:47 mark. The Celtics were deep into their bench with Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson in the game, while Kyrie, Korver, and Shump continued to lock in and finish the quarter up 103-57.

The fourth quarter was all garbage time, and we savored every minute of Cavs’ strut. We were all waiting for the Cleveland lead to get to the half century mark, and it did at 9:41 when a D-Will bunny made it 110-60. Shump balled out to get them there: chasing down every rebound, hounding (still) on defense, and knocking down his threes.

The lead was never extended, but this was all for fun anyway. Channing and R.J. got it going late with some threes and a Jefferson dunk. Dahntay Jones came in to snuff out any funny business. He had a hilarious play where he pulled the chair on a Jordan Mickey post-up and Mickey floundered about. James Jones got to make a token appearance (he’s this year’s victory cigar). And Derrick Williams played like the league’s best 11th man.

It was all smiles for Cleveland at the buzzer and we knew we’d be telling our grandkids about this some day.

By the numbers, Cleveland was epic. LeBron was something like +42 in the first half and +46 for the game. He finished the game with 30, seven dimes, four boards, four steals, three blocks, and one turnover. “Daayaaamn…!” Uncle drew got his stroke back: 8-11 from the field with 23 points, three assists, and four turnovers (really the only “bad” thing about this game). K-Love dropped 21 and 12 including 4-9 from three.

Deron, super sub, Williams was +20 with four points, six dimes, three boards, and two steals in 17 minutes. That production is insane. And Iman was even better: Seven points, five boards, three dimes, two steals, and +20 in 12 of the most productive freaking minutes you’ll ever see.Even the Road Trippin’ Crew, R.J. and Channing had 10 and seven respectively.

Other numbers: LeBron just tied Jordan with his eighth straight 30+ playoff game. Cleveland has won 13 straight playoff games. The 41 point halftime lead was the biggest in NBA history. Isiah Thomas was 0-6 with two points, six dimes, -32 in 18 minutes. This was a beatdown.

LeBron has made a mockery of the regular season, the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the MVP award, and the notion of basketball parity in general. For as much talk as was made of The Warriors, the Cavs have sneakily put together the greatest bench in NBA history to support the King’s quest for a repeat. This bench has two former all-stars in Deron and Korver, a guy who should’ve been an all-star in his prime in Jefferson, former plus/minus all-star in Frye (his RAPM stats in Phoenix were ridiculous), and a two-guard who’d start for a third of the league in Shumpert. Former number one pick Derrick Williams who had a regular season 63TS% and whose whose lineups were dominating people is the 11th freaking man! Dahntay Jones is the enforcer, and James Jones (66TS% in regular season!) is the best 13th man/assistant coach you could ever ask for at the end of your bench.

This Cavs team is beyond special, and this series is over. I feel bad for Boston even having to play the next two games. I know Cleveland could be in for a letdown, but Boston will say something stupid to fire them up and no team has ever gone 12-0 to the finals. The quest for history alone will motivate the wine and gold. So let’s root for some Spurs’ wins to tire the Warriors, and let’s gear up for one of the greatest finals match-ups of all time. This seems presumptuous, but I’m just gonna leave this right here…

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Charlie E
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Charlie E
1 year 2 months ago

Major kudos to LeBron James for winning the Citizenship award. In addition to being the league’s best player, our favorite son is a steadfast friend, devoted son and family man, and a first class benefactor to his Akron community. He is the role model Charles Barkley never wanted to be.

http://www.nba.com/cavaliers/releases/pbwa-citizenship-award-170521

believeLAND
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believeLAND
1 year 2 months ago

“Boston is two years away.” Okay, if in two years Boston has some magical fairy dust land on them from the basketball heavens and they get Rudy Gobert, Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler around Markelle Fultz, and their current starting five is their back up starting five, then you could say they are possibly getting close to the Cavs, possibly.

Even then, I’d take Lebron in five.

believeLAND
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believeLAND
1 year 2 months ago

There’s a reason why Lebron keeps pointing out after every game that the Cavs defensive rotations need to improve. Even games that the Cavs win by 40+ points.

JB225
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JB225
1 year 2 months ago

The reason(s) why the Warriors went out and signed​ KD is because they never found an answer for LeBron and he is the only guy that can put LeBron like numbers in terms of scoring, rebounding and he also assists well not quite like Lebron and that’s why the Cavs still have the advantage on that match. To me the LBJ/KI duo will match the KD/KI duo it will come down to the others (role players) to win the series. My honest​ opinion.

Charlie E
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Charlie E
1 year 2 months ago

The Boston Massacre indeed.

LeBron’s outside shot looked better than I’ve ever seen. He was really stroking it with rhythm, energy, and confidence.

Too bad it only counts for one game.

believeLAND
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believeLAND
1 year 2 months ago

Iggy can’t guard Lebron. No one on GSW can guard Lebron. They can’t guard Kyrie either.

TheOtherJason
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TheOtherJason
1 year 2 months ago

I assume dpoy draymond can guard lebron also

believeLAND
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believeLAND
1 year 2 months ago

Nope. No one on that team can hang with Lebron. Lebron will stuff it down their throats, then others Cavs will light the arc on fire.

Cavs defensive efficiency will be the determinant of the series.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

I would have to disagree on the Iggy part. He, if healthy, is one of the only few guys on the league that can hang with him.

Kevin
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Kevin
1 year 2 months ago

Define what you mean by hang with him? He was able to in 2015 when LeBron had no one to kick it out to other than Delly and JR. Who is going to stop him from establishing his post game now? He’s going to either get his or pick them apart with passes. It’s going to be up to guys like JR, Korver and Kevin hitting their open threes.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

I think Iggy can “man up” LeBron and not be pushed around like everyone else. Because of that, I think when fully healthy, he’s a good defender against LeBron. He’s strong, about the same body size and has never backed down from him.

Does that mean that LeBron won’t score or be held down to 8pts? No. But I don’t think LeBron gets double teamed with a healthy Iggy on the court. Because of that, the shooters on the perimeter won’t be able to do what they have been doing, and that’s getting wide open shots.

Just my opinion.

John B
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John B
1 year 2 months ago

Who would have thought Zaza Pachulia would be the warriors most valuable offseason addition? /s

ChrisK
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ChrisK
1 year 2 months ago

I think what cannot be overstated is that the massacre happened IN BOSTON. What makes me a believer in the Cavs’ championship capability is the lack of fear getting wins in someone else’s building. LeBron has even said he relishes the opportunity on the road. This team has also essentially killed the idea of regular-season relevance (last year’s record-setting Warriors’ 73 wins, this year’s “terrible defense” switch-flipping). Watching the Warriors win tonight has changed little in my mind–the Cavs are actually deeper than the Warriors this year, more varied in their offensive repertoire (especially posting up), and more tenacious on the glass. Let’s get this series safely over with…

Tim
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Tim
1 year 2 months ago

I’ve been giggling my butt off and showing my wife highlights. With IT quitting the year, she agrees 100% with me, this is unprecedented in professional sports, the Cavs didn’t just beat the Celtics, they crushed their souls, completely, like rape victims, the Celtics don’t want to compete, they want to get counseling and find new personnel to never allow this type of massacre to occur again.

Tim
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Tim
1 year 2 months ago

Very literally, the Cavs are Monstars, the haunting nightmares that poison the self-satisfied New Englanders contented sleep.

Leo
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Leo
1 year 2 months ago

Spurs defense is shitty warriors don’t look any different than last year cavs are on insane roll right now…celtics look totally defeated and there is zero leadership either…this game should shut up those all on train of brad stevens being good coach

NOMAD
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NOMAD
1 year 2 months ago

TIM LEGLER ( ESPN WHO I NORMALLY RESPECT HIS OPINIONS / AGREE WITH ) THINKS WITH THOMAS NOT PLAYING WILL ACTUALLY CELTS A BETER CHANCE TO BEAT THE CAVS ……..WE WILL SEE HOW THAT WORKS OUT ……PUTTING MY MONEY ON THE CAVS !!

JB225
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JB225
1 year 2 months ago

Well it didn’t work well last night for the Celtics in the 2nd half of the game lol. I guess he means the Celtics could do better defensively maybe but win a game I don’t think so.

JB225
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JB225
1 year 2 months ago

I wanted the Celtics to give the Cavs some trouble in this series to prepare them for what’s next but now with no IT how will the Cavs use this series (or what’s left of it) as preparation for the finals? It’s good that the Cavs are going to get another week of rest and I hope to use it to their advantage. They know they’ll​ be facing the Warriors again so that week should help the new guys prepare for the Warriors and that’s good.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

I was also hoping for that. Kind of like a better Pacers series. Unfortunately they will have to find out if they are really ready come game one. Sucks but I like their chances with the way LeBron is playing.

JB225
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JB225
1 year 2 months ago

I like the Cavs chances too with the way LBJ is playing. By the way I believe LeBron finally learned (or maybe coach Lue told him) that opposing teams prefer to make him a scorer than to let him get everybody involved. So now he is attacking first and if the help comes then he begins to assist others.
Do you remember last year after the first 2 games of the finals LeBron said in an interview that he understood that he had to change his basketball DNA and he did. He then began to look for his offense first which for me is the right approach specially in the playoffs.
I believe that is why his scoring numbers have been so amazing in the last 13 playoff games, he has prepare himself to become an even greater scorer by working on his jumpshot and adding some other post moves.
If he keeps playing like this in full attack mode the Cavs are going to be really hard to beat even by the Warriors.
But the Cavs shoots have to also be ready to knock their shots down when the opportunities come.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

You are right. Before he was more interested in getting the other guys going before he “took over”. Unfortunately that was a hindrance because sometimes the other guys didn’t make the shots he tried to assist on, and it was a lost possession.

Now, with the “attack first” mentality, he scores, the defense starts reacting to it and closing in and he start passing. If the shots don’t fall it’s not as bad because he has already gotten himself going and can make up the points in the next possession, plus he has already scored, so you’re not in a complete hole.

Best thing is, this version of LeBron,with the jumper falling in, is unguardable.

JB225
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JB225
1 year 2 months ago

The Cavs shooters…..i meant lol

Codename Cold James
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Codename Cold James
1 year 2 months ago

The lineup of DWill + Big 3 + Shump/JR looks like an offensive monster. DWill is a great passer, still packs some scoring punch, and keeps the offense from getting stagnant like when LeBron or Kyrie bring the ball up. Each of the Big 3 can score from anywhere on the floor, and each is/can be an excellent passer. Off-Ball LeBron is deadly, and he’s more prone to making cuts with a pass-first point guard in control. Shump/JR can focus on D and draining the occasional wide-open three. LeBron or Kyrie can bring the ball up every 3-4 possessions to switch the look for the defense. If all the guys are in willing passer mode, look out.
This is the lineup that really put the game to bed in 2Q. Scored 18 on only 9 offensive trips down the floor. Outscored the Celtics 18-2. Extended the lead from 23 to 39 in four minutes.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

I think TT will need to be a factor against the Warriors given Dray’s and Zaza’s post presence. I don’t think LeBron and Love down low will match up well against those other two.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
1 year 2 months ago

THOMAS IS PROBABLY DONE AS A CELTIC

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

You really think so? Is it because of the max contract or because they may go after a PG in the draft?

If he wants to be there, I just don’t see how you don’t keep him. He needs to understand that his size makes him a liability on D, and therefore shouldn’t get a max contract, but that’s easier said than done.

I say keep him as a SG and use Bradley as a backup for his defense. Go for a PG, wether draft or trade, and then Hayward or PG13. A solid PG, IT and one of those other two guys, that’s a good combo. I also really like the rookie Brown, he should turn into a solid playmaker.

CLF
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CLF
1 year 2 months ago

Wow… IT is done for the playoffs.

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

I hope the Celts don’t try to pay revenge…

JRL
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JRL
1 year 2 months ago

The crazy part of the whole game was the “serenity” with which the whole team played. It was as if they had absolutely no doubt they were going to win and no matter what the Celts did, it wasn’t/didn’t face them.

I have only experienced that in my lifetime once. I’m an old school video gamer, having a world record in a player vs player arcade combat game. Years ago, when I first started playing this particular game, I would constantly get my ass handed to me by a much better player. It wasn’t until almost 9 months later, of playing every weekday (school days) that I had THAT game.

It was surreal. It was slow motion. I “knew” what he was going to do before he did it. I was no longer playing against him, I was existing within the game and nothing he did made me think, for once, that I was going to lose. After that the tides turned… He was no longer above me and we were now on an even scale. I still remember that day like it was yesterday.

I’m sure that’s how they felt last night…

Mike Podracky
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Mike Podracky
1 year 2 months ago

Nate you summary nicely captured the euphoria and domination of the game. It’s still hard to fathom 110-60. I can’t imagine that score will be seen in a conference finals game for a very long time…..if ever.

Phil Hubbard
Member
Phil Hubbard
1 year 2 months ago

Somehow LeBron’s stats don’t capture how much he dominated the game, controlled everything, snuffed out anything that might give the Celtics hope. Just wow.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 2 months ago

Can’t see Dubs losing with Kawhi out for Game 3…

6thCity
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6thCity
1 year 2 months ago

Great job, Nate! Watching this team during the regular season was like bungee jumping off a bridge only to have the playoff run suddenly, and with building, dizzying acceleration, fire us back upward. Here’s hoping we land back on top!

Gordon
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Gordon
1 year 2 months ago

This has been the most enjoyable sports run I have ever experienced. This team is so incredibly fun to watch and be a part of as a fan.

The NBA Finals is going to be the most hyped up sporting event possibly ever. No team has ever started a postseason 12-0 to go to the Finals. Well, we are most likely going to have two teams 12-0 this year which means Game 1 will be for the all-time record to start the NBA postseason. Oh, and it just so happens to be the third straight Finals these two teams will be matched up. Oh, and it also just so happens to be the rubber match. And let’s not forget the 100 other story lines that will be headliners starting Game 1.

I can’t wait.

Tim
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Tim
1 year 2 months ago

Also impossible to predict, the Cavs, with their playoff switch have effectively made it impossible to know exactly how good they are or can be.

Kevin
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Kevin
1 year 2 months ago

I agree. I don’t think the sports world is prepared for game 1. It’s going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ratings will be better than last year’s game seven.

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 2 months ago

EvilGenius
Admin
1 year 2 months ago

Thanks for this Nate… awesome recap! I’ve never seen anything like what we witnessed last night…

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
1 year 2 months ago

The Boston Massacre, aka The Boston Three Party.

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