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Home / Sports / Celtics Shut Down Underdog Narrative, Prove Matchup Nightmares for LeBron, Cavs | Bleacher Report

Celtics Shut Down Underdog Narrative, Prove Matchup Nightmares for LeBron, Cavs | Bleacher Report

<img class = "atom lazyImage lazy" itemprop = "contentUrl" src = "https://img.bleacherreport.net/img/images/photos/003/741/540/hi-res-c63c19ffe0234d0cc76cd9280a37c146_crop_north.jpg? h = 53 & w = 80 & q = 70 & crop_x = center & crop_y = top "width =" 800 "height =" 533 "alt =" Cleveland Cavaliers striker LeBron James, right, fights for position against Boston Celtics striker Marcus Morris (13) in the third quarter of the game 1 of the NBA Basketball Eastern Conference Finals, Sunday, May 1
3, 2018, in Boston. (1965) Michael Dwyer / Associated Press

During the 2017-18 NBA season, the Boston Celtics have performed better than the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is an objective fact.

Although LeBron James is easily the first person in the Eastern Conference Finals, Cs head coach Brad Stevens was forced to remix his lineup over and over again to account for the myriad of rotators' injuries (Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart , Daniel Theis, etc.), the number 2 of the East has always proved to be a superior outfit. His 3.7 Network rating during the regular season lagged behind only the scores produced by the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers while the Cavs (1.0) fell all the way back to 13th place.

Game 1 of this penultimate round related a similar story, with Boston using a massive 21-2 run in the first quarter to gain a gaping advantage on the way to a 108-83 victory. At no point in the opening conflict did the Cavaliers, even with James on the ground, like the Moloch, who should have been a series earlier against the Toronto Raptors.

Except Cleveland, apparently, was the darling for the contest. [19659007] BOSTON, MA – MAY 13: Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James # 23 treats the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game One of the 2018 NBA Finals Eastern Conference finals on May 13, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston , Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: “/>

Jesse D. Garrabrant / Getty Images

Boston only needed five games to ship the talent-laden Philadelphia 76ers. It had not lost a single match on his parquet floor against the Sixers or the Milwaukee Bucks, their athletic, but undisciplined opponents of the first round. And even though he was playing at home in front of a noisy crowd that James was playing every time he touched the rock in the first quarter, the Celtics were a one-point outsider at the opening tip, according to OddsShark.com. E ven FiveThirtyEight's CARM-Elo model gave the northeastern Ohio officials a 60 percent chance of reaching the final.

To be fair, the reasoning is not so difficult to grasp.

Although Cleveland's goal from Toronto was closer than 4-0, it might indicate this at first (see: Overtime victory in Game 1 and Wonderful Summer Bat in Game 3), it seemed to be this proverbial corner In particular, the non-James members of the roster. While the Celtics squeeze out tons of names from non-domestic names like Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Cavs' roster is still the best player in the world. And he's a player who does not even lack self-confidence, even in the face of a street game in the garden:

But the Celtics did not take long to prove that the alleged status of cavaliers as favorites was a misnomer. They had already exploded for 34 points in the first quarter before Tatum, their top scorer in the playoffs, dropped a floater off the left baseline for his first points of play and extended the lead to 36-18.

The Cavs were only able to collect 35 points in the first half.

Boston will not always drill 61.9 percent of its field goal attempts, as it did in the first quarter. It will not only spin the ball three times in half, as was the case in the opening game of this penultimate series. But Cleveland makes it hard to expect anything else.

The defense discipline is still not there and that was the case throughout the campaign. So we do not forget, Cleveland has ended the regular season No. 29 in points allowed per 100 possessions, and it was only the 10. Best defense in the playoffs. This lack of pre-eminence was on Sunday afternoon when the Cavs inexplicably left shooters on the tip of the key, did not recognize the backdoor cuts and helped off of a man against Boston's swarm of shooters, sometimes even missed, Brown in the corner, so that they could help against Al Horford. BOSTON, MA – MAY 13: Jaylen Brown # 7 The Boston Celtics shoots the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game of one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2018 NBA playoffs on May 13, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. INSTRUCTIONS FOR USER: “/>

Brian Babineau / Getty Images

These are basic defense principles, elemental to even league-style outfits at this advanced stage of the season. But the concepts are still evading far too many of the Rotarians of the Cavaliers who are now acting against a team designed to exploit the myriad mistakes.

The Raptors were to take advantage of Cleveland's defense, but poor filming by DeMar DeRozan and a return to isolation proclivities prevented this. Boston will not fall into similar traps; it's a well-oiled machine with shots coming from all five points.

Oh, and it knows how to lean on the defense.

If anything, Cleveland's defensive problems are secondary when they compete against a crew unique to become a match nightmare against a James-led offensive. It is problematic to provoke offense, even for a group that has been constantly firing at enemies to mitigate the negative effects of this Swiss cheese stop unit.

The Celtics have a variety of viable bodies that they can throw at their main opponent, from the alleged" LeBron " Stomp "Marcus Morris on the surprisingly fast Horford to the physical, young bodies of Brown and Semi Ojeleye. Unlike the Raptors, they do not need to double-place him with each possession, instead of turn on the screens and try a wide range of frames to slow James down for individual possessions, harassing him into fast passes and ugly turnovers (seven am Sunday).

Keeping James on the shoot from 16 to 15 points was a lot of teamwork, but Morris did his part when he received the single task:

And perhaps more important, this is nothing new for the Celtics striker:

But even if we exploded into Game 1, we knew it all. Boston always looked at least on paper – like a mismatch for a Cavaliers team that has inconsistent support and a permeable defense. This was only veiled by James presence as he makes it so hard to bet on a run on the NBA Finals against each season.

Falling into the trap of overlooking these Celtics is much more difficult now.

We've seen Horford continue to be the first siren against a James-led attack, and that did not stop him from setting 20 points and six of his own assists as he scored 8 out of 10 of them. The lights are not too bright for the teenagers. Rozier's passing game (eight assists, one turnover) and Brown's all-round game (23 points, eight rebounds, one assists, one steal and one block) were both completely on display.

Look at this block and bucket at the other end:

Once these newcomers get Monstared before any further game in this series, they are not afraid to compete against a living legend in James. Damn, they may be young enough not to know better. As Tatum said about NESN how to slow down the quadruple MVP in a postgame interview after closing the Sixers: "This is my first year, I do not know."

After game 1 we have some ideas.

A Hall of Fame performance performed by a talented and motivated individual like James can change that. We certainly do not want to exclude this possibility. But playoff series are usually won by either a superior team with more talents or a talent capable of capitalizing on a beneficial matchup.

After a 25-point breakout, the Celtics seem to check both boxes.

Adam Fromal includes the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ fromal09 .

Unless otherwise specified, all values ​​from Basketball Reference, NBA. com, NBA Math or ESPN.com and will go into games on May 13

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