Cavs collapse in second half of Game 2 loss to Celtics

LeBron's 42-point triple double not enough to prevent 0-2 series hole

Daryl Ruiter
May 16, 2018 - 12:52 am
Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) reacts after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter in game two of the Eastern conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Boston Celtics took LeBron James’ best shot and brushed it off Tuesday night like dust in the wind.

As expected, James responded from a lackluster Game 1 performance with a sensational 42-point, 10-rebound and 12 assist effort, but James got little help outside of a quick 11-point second quarter spurt from Kyle Korver and a 22-point, 15 rebound effort from Kevin Love.

The Cavs collapsed and lost their composure in the second half that saw Boston take a 2-0 series lead with a 107-94 victory and now they have 3 long days to find a way to salvage the series, and their season.

James, who scored 21 points in the opening quarter, had to depart for a few minutes at the 3:48 mark of the second quarter following a collision with Jayson Tatum when James got hit hard in the side of his jaw by Tatum’s shoulder under the basket.

James, who had 6 of the Cavs' 15 turnovers, looked woozy attempting to shoot free throws before going to the locker room. He was diagnosed with a neck strain and not a concussion.

That play was the turning point in the game.

After returning to the game, James still shot 7 of 14 while adding 6 rebounds and 8 assists, but he wasn't the same physical force he was prior to the foul.

Neither were the Cavs. 

After that collision, the Cavs were outscored 71-47 the rest of the way by the younger, more athletic and energetic Celtics. What’s scary is Boston is doing this with their top 2 players in suits watching from the bench.

The Cavs had a 7-point halftime lead but trailed after 3 by 7 following yet another miserable third quarter.

They looked old, slow and downright lazy at times in the second half.

According to ESPN States and Information, the Cavs took just 3 open shots and had their other 36 contested by Boston while only contesting 28 of 48 shots by the Celtics over the final 24 minutes.

The Celtics starting backcourt of Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown outscored the Cavaliers backcourt of George Hill and J.R. Smith 41-3.

Smith was particularly awful on both ends of the floor. Besides getting torched defensively, he threw up 7 bricks and didn’t score a point.

Smith’s blatantly dirty shove of Al Horford, who was airborne going to the rim, in the back that set Marcus Smart off all but assured the implosion would be complete late in the fourth quarter. Smart and Smith tried to go at it but were separated by officials and teammates. At one point, Smith clearly had Smart by the face with his hand. Both players got technical and Smith assessed a flagrant-1. He should’ve been ejected.

Through 2 games Smith has just 4 points on 2-16 shooting and he’s yet to make a 3.

Smith, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr., Jeff Green and Rodney Hood were a combined 4 of 19 from the field and totaled 11 points. Tristan Thompson made 4 of 6 shots and finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds while Korver wet 4-8 from the floor but wasn’t heard from after the second quarter.

Through the first 2 games Boston has been tougher, stronger and played the game harder than the Cavs have.

The truth of the matter is that the Cavs’ problems stem from the ugly divorce with former general manager David Griffin and were compounded by what has turned out to be a disastrous trade with the Celtics for Kyrie Irving that inexplicably didn’t include either of a pair of players that are currently abusing them –Tatum or Brown, who combined for 34 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists Tuesday night.

General manager Koby Altman tried to rebuild the roster on the fly at the trade deadline and salvage another NBA Finals run, but outside of the Toronto series, the Cavs have been a mess the entire season.

The Celtics are simply exposing each and every one of their flaws in the conference finals.

The Cavs don’t have to worry about getting swept by Golden State in the NBA Finals because at this rate, the Celtics will be the team using the brooms on them if they don’t get it together and find themselves by Saturday night.