Takeaways From Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals
As most people expected, LeBron James had himself a night in Game 2 following his underwhelming performance in Game 1. Notching a triple-double, James scored 42 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 12 assists. The downside, he also had six turnovers, which is equal to the total of the entire Boston Celtics team in Game 2. These few stats write the narrative for this series so far. LeBron goes off for 42 points and a triple-double, and still loses by 13. Boston has proven to have 6-7 players who can go on runs and make big plays, especially down the stretch. But Cleveland was able to make it a series in Game 2. Here are a few key takeaways following the matchup.
Cleveland’s Offense has Balanced Out:
The Cavs were much more efficient from the 3-point line in Game 2, shooting 32 percent as opposed to 15 percent in Game 1. Half of the 10 made 3-pointers came from LeBron, specifically in the 1st quarter. LeBron came out with intensity and aggression to start the game and scored 21 points in the 1st quarter alone. Kyle Korver was able to contribute a few 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, and Kevin Love came up big for the Cavaliers with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Between Marcus Morris yelling in Tristan Thompson's face, and Marcus Smart defending Al Horford after JR Smith's flagrant push, Boston is making it obvious they are the more aggressive team. Smart was the primary aggressor in Game 2 as he grabbed 4 steals to go with 9 assists and 0 turnovers. The crowd also got involved, which contributed to 12 fast-break points from Boston. The intense defense and the loud crowd led to a lot of missed shots and fumbled plays which led the well-balanced attack of the Celtics.
Al Horford Taking Over:
“Big Al” has been able to take over late in games this postseason. He clinched the series with the 76ers with a bucket and a steal, and he clinched the Game 2 win with similar aggression. He was able to make big plays on the defensive end including a crucial steal, and he drew fouls and made the free throws to go with them. Throughout the whole game Horford was everywhere, relentlessly running the offense and the defense. Cleveland will really need to make some adjustments in Game 3 regarding Al Horford and not allowing him to get into his zone.
LeBron Does Need Help:
LeBron poured in 42 points, Love scored 22, and Korver scored 11. That’s it for double digit scorers. Boston had 6 double digit scorers. George Hill and Tristan Thompson combined for 11 points, while Jeff Green gave them 6 points off the bench. That’s as far as scoring distribution goes. JR Smith played 27 minutes, went 0-7 from the field, and came out with a flagrant foul. It is apparent now more than ever that LeBron James needs these players to step up. Matched up against such a good defensive team in the Boston Celtics, a team that has the capability to score relentlessly when it matters most, LeBron’s 42-point triple doubles will not be enough to overcome a team with such physicality and grit. In Game 3 in Cleveland, adjustments will need to be made and these other players will need to step up and match LeBron James’ aggression or they may find themselves at the wrong end of the historically unbeatable 3-0 lead.