Brad Stevens sounded an cautious yet optimistic tone Tuesday night after his team dropped a 99-91 decision to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

Brad Stevens sounded an cautious yet optimistic tone Tuesday night after his team dropped a 99-91 decision to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena that put his Celtics in a 2-0 series hold heading back to Boston for Game 3 Thursday night.

“We have another game to play,” Stevens said. “We have another game to prepare for. We have to prepare to the best of our ability. We’ve been of a collective mindset of the only day that matters is today and you move on to what’s next. I know that gets really old to hear but I think it’s the only way to live and certainly the only way to live in this business and it allows you to keep your focus on the task at hand.”

For the second straight game, the Celtics managed to outscore the Cavaliers after one quarter, leading 16-8 at one point. They were hanging tough heading into halftime in both games. Tuesday, they trailed by just one, 51-50, at the break. But in each of the first two games, Boston has laid a collective egg in the third quarter. Tuesday, they were outscored 17-4 out of the halftime break. The Celtics battled back but could never completely climb out of the hole.

“They came out both times very good but we were very poor at the start of the third,” Stevens said. “Both times I thought we were slow coming out of the gates for whatever reason. Again, they’re going to have their runs but their runs can’t become 9-0, 11-0, 13-0 or whatever it is. We’ve got to stop them at five or six and make it a 5-2 run or a 7-4 run. Easier said than done. Everybody glorifies the guy who makes the last-second shot. But the guy who can stop a run, that’s big-time toughness. We’ve got to be able to do that a little bit better and we’ve got guys in our room capable of doing that.

“Nobody has ever played a perfect basketball game, right? But you’re on a quest to play perfect in what you can control. We were good but we weren’t near good enough. But we did play better in a lot of ways. This team will compete and I feel pretty comfortable saying we’ll compete. We just have to be a little bit tighter. And that’s because of the game demands that and it’s also because our opponent is awfully good.”

The Celtics were downright dominant on the offensive glass in the first half, holding a 7-1 edge and outscoring Cleveland 12-2 in second chance points. But that changed drastically in the second half, as the Cavs outscored the Celtics 16-4 in second chance points and 9-4 on the offensive glass.

“I thought we were great in the first half on the glass,” Stevens said. “I thought at the end of the game, those offensive rebounds by [Tristan] Thompson obviously separated. When we were coming back, those were huge, huge plays. But the third quarters killed us both games. That’s been where we’ve been fighting from behind from that point on in both games.”

Then there’s LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. James scored 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter while Irving finished with 26.

“They’re good players. Obviously, they’re great players,” Stevens said. “I thought we challenged Kyrie a little bit better. He’s a hard one because he gets fouled on some of those jump shots. That tough. He’s a really explosive ball handler and scorer. And then when LeBron just puts his shoulder down and wants to get where he wants to go, it’s hard to stop him from getting there. But I thought our guys actually did a pretty good job on different plays. Evan [Turner], especially on the one play where LeBron floated across the lane and ended up shooting that fadeaway going left.

“Those guys are hard to stop. That’s why we can’t start third quarters slowly and that’s why we’ve got to finish plays and that’s why every issue we’re having is magnified.”

Stevens watched as Irving and James drove to the basket time after time when Cleveland need a response to several Boston charges in the fourth. Stevens admitted there’s only so much you can do to defend James when he’s on a mission to the basket.

“He’s obviously a great competitor,” Stevens said. “He’s also the most physically talented and one of the best certainly mental players in the game. You add that together you’ve got a heck of a guy and heck of player. It’s why he’s considered one of the all-time and why he’s considered the best in the game right now. Yes, he made those plays. Yes, he can make those plays. The jump shots obviously. The one was well contested. The second one wasn’t as well contested.

“I thought for the most part we made those guys earn everything they got. I think that’s a step in the right direction from Game 1 but I still think we can hopefully improve a little bit on those guys but I think it’s the other stuff that’s really been magnified because you can’t give up offensive rebounds when you work so hard to keep those two guys from making a shot. You can’t give up transition baskets when you know that you’re going to have to work so hard, regardless, and they may score anyways.

“We talked about it the other day. I want to take away the transition baskets and I want to take away the offensive rebound baskets. They’re going to score some in the lane. They’re going to score some from behind the arc. We’ve got to minimize those other things. I hate to sound like a broken record but I think that’s a huge, huge key for us to be successful. But if you hold them to 99 points, you’ve got a shot to win. I thought our defense was drastically better than the last game.

“I thought they kicked it into a gear a little bit. We built that eight-point lead in the first half and bang, it’s back down to three. I think that’s pretty typical of them. You can feel like you’re going pretty well and then you can feel like you’re being steamrolled very quickly. We have to do a better job of responding so those 9-0 runs don’t become 9-0 runs. They end at five and you score to kind of stem the tide. It’s easier said than done. Again, I’m encouraged by our defense today. I thought our offense wasn’t quite as good. They played good defense on their end. I also think we were in a three possession game and we shot 38 percent. So, it’s not bad and you hold them to 99, you feel pretty good about your chances if you even make a few of those, knock a few of those in.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics achieved almost everything they set out to do in Game 2 — as Avery Bradley terrorized Kyrie Irving, the

The Celtics achieved almost everything they set out to do in Game 2 — as Avery Bradley terrorized Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers shot just 24.1 percent from 3-point range and the C’s out-rebounded Cleveland on the offensive glass — and yet they still lost by eight.

Despite all that went right for the Celtics, they still had no answer for LeBron James, who finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 99-91 victory that gave the Cavaliers a 2-0 series lead. Even with Bradley all over him, Irving managed 26 points, six assists and five boards, spoiling what may have been the C’s best chance for a win.

“Obviously, they’re great players,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in his postgame press conference. “I thought we challenged Kyrie a little bit better. He’s a hard one because he gets fouled on some of those jump shots. That’s tough, but he’s a really explosive ball-handler and scorer. And when LeBron just puts his shoulder down and wants to get to where he wants to go, it’s hard to stop him from getting there. But I thought our guys actually did a pretty good job on different plays. … Those guys are hard to stop, but that’s why we can’t start the third quarter slowly and that’s why we’ve got to finish plays. That’s why every issue we’re having is magnified.”

Isaiah Thomas again led the Celtics with 22 points and seven assists. Jared Sullinger added 14 points, Tyler Zeller scored 11 and Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart each netted 10.

For a complete box score, click here.

BRINGING THE ENERGY

Midway through the first quarter, Brandon Bass wrestled an offensive rebound from Tristan Thompson and LeBron James, and then kicked it out to an open Marcus Smart, who knocked down a 3-pointer that pushed the Celtics‘ lead to 16-8 and forced the Cavs’ first timeout. It was indicative of a tremendous early effort by the Celtics. They matched their Game 1 total of seven offensive boards in the first quarter of Game 2 and added eight points off five Cleveland turnovers in the opening 12 minutes, taking a 26-25 lead after one.

AVERY BRADLEY SHOWED UP EARLY

After scoring just seven points on 10 shots and finishing 1-for-6 from 3-point range in the first game of the series, Bradley shook off the nerves to submit a stellar bounce-back performance. He knocked down his first two 3-pointers and wreaked havoc on Kyrie Irving in the early going, bringing the 3-and-D combination that he had all season. While he picked up two early fouls — the second of which was for hounding Irving and nearly coming up with a steal at midcourt — Bradley helped set the tone for the C’s intensity.

CLOSING QUARTERS

As was the case in Game 1, the Celtics had trouble closing quarters. After the C’s took their 16-8 lead, the Cavaliers closed the first quarter on a 17-10 run, including another ridiculous 3-pointer from Irving in the final minute. The Celtics reestablished a nine-point lead with 4:38 remaining in the first half, but the Cavs once again closed the second quarter on a 15-5 run to grab a 51-50 lead at the break. For as well as the Celtics had played in the opening 24 minutes, they still trailed by one on 38.3 percent shooting.

JARED SULLINGER OVER JONAS JEREBKO? In an effort to counter Cleveland’s 46-34 rebounding advantage in Game 1 — including 15 offensive rebounds — Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to Jared Sullinger over Jonas Jerebko off the bench. The C’s enjoyed mixed success, as Sullinger hit two 3-pointers for the first time since Feb. 4 and reached double figures, but he grabbed just two defensive rebounds and was a minus-6 through three quarters. Stevens finally inserted Jerebko with four minutes remaining in the third, and the Celtics promptly closed the quarter on an 8-2 run that limited the damage after Cleveland had stretched its lead to 13. ISAIAH THOMAS DOWN THE STRETCH The C’s sixth man didn’t have his finest showing in the first half, missing four of his six shots — including both his 3-pointers — and committing two turnovers against his three assists, but it was Thomas who led an inspired effort to make it a game again late. Stevens inserted Thomas with 6:33 remaining in the third quarter and the Celtics trailing 68-54. Over the next 9:17, the C’s outscored the Cavs 25-13 and closed within one at 81-79 with 8:10 remaining. Thomas finished with seven points and three assists in that run, including a pair of ridiculous layups, but the Celtics could never get over the hump.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Live Blog CelticsCavaliers Game 2
 

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

Granted, Sunday’s game between the Cavaliers and Celtics was questionably officiated, but J.R. Smith hardly has a case he didn’t deserve all four of his fouls — and maybe even more.

In just his second year as an NBA coach, Brad Stevens is making a huge impression on the league.

In just his second year as an NBA coach, Brad Stevens is making a huge impression on the league.

The Celtics coach finished fourth in the NBA’s Coach of the Year voting getting two first place votes, four second place votes, and 28 third place votes for 50 total points. Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer won the award with Steve Kerr finishing second and Jason Kidd third.

In his two seasons he has a record of 65-99, but went 40-42 leading the Celtics to the postseason this year.

They will take on the Cavs Tuesday night for Game 2 in their best-of-seven series trailing 1-0.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

LeBron James and the Cavaliers had their way with the Celtics in Game 1 (Jason Miller/Getty Images).Mike Gorman is an underrated icon.



The Celtics will need to crash the glass if they have any chance against the Cavs. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)