Cleveland at Boston
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – Marcus Morris and his Boston teammates got the best of LeBron James in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals. The second-seeded Celtics look to stymie the Cleveland star for the second consecutive contest when they host the fourth-seeded Cavaliers on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.
Morris helped hold James to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting as Boston roared to a 26-point halftime advantage en route to a 108-83 torching of Cleveland in Sunday’s series opener. Morris moved into the starting lineup and had 21 points and 10 rebounds after boasting prior to the opener that he is one of the best in the NBA at defending James. “It’s a team effort, man, it’s not just me,” Morris told reporters after the easy victory. “Everybody played their part in guarding him. He’s obviously the best player in the game, and you need multiple guys and a team to guard him an entire game. I just think we did a great job of that.” Cavaliers veteran swingman Kyle Korver summed up the performance this way: “Bad game, bad first game. There’s lot of things we can do better in the next one.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS: James also committed seven turnovers during his porous performance but he said he wasn’t worried about his team trailing in the series. “I have zero level of concern at this stage,” James told reporters. “I didn’t go to college, so it’s not March Madness. You know, you get better throughout the series. You see ways you can get better throughout the series. But I’ve been down 0-1, I’ve been down 0-2, I’ve been down before in the postseason. But for me, there’s never no level of concern, no matter how bad I played tonight with seven turnovers, how inefficient I was shooting the ball.” James had plenty of company in the subpar shooting category as Cleveland shot 36 percent from the field, including a woeful 4-of-26 from 3-point range.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Morris was one of three Boston players to reach the 20-point mark in the opener as shooting guard Jaylen Brown recorded 23 points and eight rebounds and center Al Horford had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. But the decision to elevate Morris into the starting power forward spot was the big difference-maker as a player who was just 18-of-59 shooting in the five-game series against Philadelphia made 7-of-12 shots and effectively hounded James. “He was able to really force the issue in the offensive end and make LeBron exert so much energy because then he has to come down and really guard him,” backup point guard Marcus Smart told reporters. “Can’t take plays off against really good players.”
1. Celtics SF Jayson Tatum scored 16 points in Game 1 to halt his franchise rookie record of seven straight games of 20 or more points.
2. Cleveland PF/C Kevin Love (17 points) was just 5-of-14 shooting in the opener after averaging 25 points on 26-of-48 shooting over the previous three playoff games.
3. Boston PG Terry Rozier had just eight points in Game 1 but also had eight assists against just one turnover.