Pressure is on Celtics in Game 2

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Le Bron James left drives for a layup in front of Boston Celtics center Al Horford during the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Wednesday

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Le Bron James left drives for a layup in front of Boston Celtics center Al Horford during the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Wednesday

After Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, against the Atlanta Hawks, James was scoring just.77 points per possession on isolations, shooting just 33% from the field. The Celtics have already through one game away with their poor play. He had the same job two years ago when the Cavaliers swept the Celtics out of the playoffs in the first round on their way to the NBA Finals.

But LeBron quickly understood that the Eastern Conference Finals aren't over after just one game. He's great at recognizing when (Kyrie) Irving or bringing a screener up that they want to bring up. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson had career-best playoff performances. "This is the predicament they put you in". We have to do what we do better than we did it last night, and then there are some things that we think from a tactical standpoint that we can use at certain times that we never got to use really.

But here's the rub for top-seeded Boston on Friday night: James said he wasn't even playing at peak condition. James has scored 30 or more points in eight of the first nine playoff games. The Celtics went 2 of 16 beyond the arc in the first half and hit only 32 percent of their 3-pointers for the game after making 37.4 in their first 13 playoff games, but the Cavs knew they got lax defensively in the third quarter. He took my phone, looked at it, then sent me to Love, still icing his feet at his locker.

For Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, who had led Boston to the NBA Playoffs for the past two years, it's a "special opportunity to get a chance to compete" against the Cleveland Cavaliers. James hit a driving layup with four seconds left in the first half to give the Cavs a 25-point lead at 61-36 before Isaiah Thomas hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to make the halftime score, 61-39.

During the regular season, the Cavs had trouble with defense.

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The Warriors, the 2015 champions, are also undefeated in the 2017 playoffs. In the opening round, they overcame a 2-0 deficit against Chicago Bulls to win 4-2. Granted, some of those games also came in the Finals, against an excellent Golden State team, but the difference in efficiency is eye-popping, nonetheless. He has pulled down at least five offensive boards in five of Cleveland's nine playoff games.

In addition, during James' post-game press conference with the gathered media, he doubled down on his comments. Coach Tyronn Lue said his team would be ready, but we wanted proof, as though everyone had amnesia and forgot how the Cavs closed out the 2016 Finals. But there was no mistaking that the Celtics began Game 1 Wednesday night running on fumes. He got a couple on the out-of-bounds today that I let Crowder throw the ball right past my hip and they get layups.

The Cavs toyed with the Celtics from the start, building a 26-point lead in the first half and expanding it to 28 in the third quarter before the Celtics cut it down to 17 at the end of the quarter.

In the last two series, the Celtics had games where they just did not show up, similar to what happened in game one.

Stevens said the Cavaliers rebound well offensively because opponents have to defend everybody. He was right about that, too. Cleveland had 22 points in the paint in the first, and James scored 15 in the first quarter alone. And - as mentioned - the Celtics got quality minutes from its bench in the earlier rounds.

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