Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Game Two Reaction


It was another disappointing night for the Boston Celtics as they fell 99-91 to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Playoffs first round. The game played out quite similarly to Game 1, except the Celtics were able to hang around until the final minutes of the game.

There were a lot of times prior to the fourth quarter where the Celtics could have rolled over, but they kept fighting. One that comes to mind is the mid-third quarter James-to-Love reverse alley-oop.

The defining moment that seemed to be the dagger in Boston’s night was the questionable shooting foul called against Avery Bradley that sent Kyrie Irving to the line, where he extended the Cleveland lead to six with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter.

The Celtics did a great job of closing the gap that the Cavs opened several times throughout the second half. The call on Bradley, where Kyrie seemed to force himself into Bradley’s space to draw (read: fake) a foul, sucked the life out of the struggling Boston team.

The loss can’t be pinned on one particular moment, however. There were a lot of problems for the Celticss throughout the game.

– “Veteran” Players

Apr 19, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives between Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass (30) and guard Avery Bradley (0) in the fourth quarter in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

In the first five minutes of the game, it looked like we were getting our reliable regular-season Bass back. In those five minutes, Bass won the tip-off against Mozgov, got a defensive rebound, followed by an offensive rebound, followed by an assist, followed by a trip to the line where he made both free throws.

After this impressive sequence Bass was not only meaningless on the court, but he was actually a liability. In his 15 minutes of play he shot 0-6 from the field and contributed just two rebounds.

The Celtics are seriously in trouble if Bass doesn’t show up for Game 3. He is one of few Celtics with any type of playoff experience, and so far he has looked like the biggest rookie of them all. He has looked completely outmatched by Love, James, and Mozgov in basically all situations.

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Avery Bradley, though very much improved in Game 2, is not excused from the conversation either. Bradley had flashes of brilliance, where it looked like he was everywhere on the court at once. Unfortunately, he seemed to disappear for chunks of his 29 minutes last night, and it led to him scoring just 8 points.

For a second option on a team without a true scoring threat, Bradley absolutely needs to step up. His defense, on the other hand, did look pretty good despite some tough calls against him.

The Celtics aren’t going to beat the Cavaliers when they are shooting 38.8 percent from the floor, and Bass and Bradley aren’t helping.

– Defense on J.R. Smith

Apr 21, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) shoots against Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) in the second quarter in game two of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

There were a few moments during the game when I just put my head in my hands. It was probably after the third or fourth wide open three that the Celtics gave to J.R. Smith.

Smith is a extremely hot and cold in the playoffs, and Boston is extraordinarily lucky that Smith was cold last night, shooting 1-8 from behind the perimeter.

My theory on the open threes for Smith is that the Boston guards are over-compensating for Kyrie Irving’s monster performances in Games 1 and 2. This is understandable for Smart and Bradley, but the problem is that it creates open chances for Smith AND other players when multiple defenders leap to block J.R.

– Minute Distribution

I’m still a little bit thrown off by Stevens rotations. Turner and Crowder deserve their minutes because they have done a relatively good job of shutting down LeBron.

My biggest beef is with the minutes among power forwards and centers. Zeller, as usual, played phenomenal in the opening minutes of the game. He played the most of all of the centers, with 30 minutes, but his minutes in the second half seem so jumbled.

Stevens puts him in for short blocks like two minutes at a time, and it seems like Zeller can’t be effective in short bursts like that. He works better when he builds some chemistry with the guys on the court.

With that said, I think Kelly Olynyk is the way to go in this particular series. The Celtics need floor spacing to keep Timofey Mozgov out of the paint, clogging the lanes for driving guards. Olynyk has also played and shot pretty well so far in the series despite his weak rebounding.

I’d like to see Olynyk play closer to at least 25 minutes in Game 3 just to see how it works. Jerebko has a similar effect, so it may be worthwhile to give him more than four minutes in the upcoming games.

I am happy with the way that Sullinger played, however, and I think the minute distribution was appropriate for him. He only played 22 minutes, but he is still getting back up to speed following his injury.

He shot 50 percent from the field, and 50 percent from behind the arc, for 14 points in addition to his three offensive rebounds and two defensive. The only problem with Sullinger is that, despite his 50 percent shooting from three point range, Cleveland’s bigs wouldn’t step out of the paint to guard him.

All in all, I think Boston has done a nice job of hanging around in this serious and wearing Cleveland down. They are going to need to play even better in Games 3 and 4 if they want a chance of winning at least one. It seems likely that Stevens will make some bigger changes between now and Thursday, considering he went with a similar game plan in Game 2 and the game played out quite similarly.

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