It wasn't perfect, but Cavs head to Boston up 2-0
College Contributor Network
By TAYLOR ROSEN
By TAYLOR ROSEN
It hasn't been extravagantly pretty, but the Cleveland Cavaliers have fought and scrapped their way in to a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Cavaliers (#2 seed) have been tested early and often by a young and inexperienced, but pesky Boston Celtics team (#7 seed). It hasn't been exactly what Cavs fans were hoping to see, but the Cavaliers are indeed heading to Boston up two games to none in the series.
On Tuesday night, the Celtics hung in there with the Cavaliers midway into the fourth quarter. It was then, when the Cavaliers dynamic duo of James and Irving took over the ball game, and led the Cavaliers to victory. James and Irving were practically unstoppable down the stretch. The two combined to score the Cavaliers final 28 points of the game. James dropped a game-high 30 points, passing Jerry West, "The Logo", for the seventh all-time playoff scoring leader in NBA history (4,457) during the process. James also had nine rebounds, and seven assists.
Irving nearly matched his spectacular playoff debut performance on Sunday, he registered 26 points, five rebounds, and six assists on Tuesday night. It's simply been an amazing display from these two Cavaliers, and something I envisioned the first time I ever witnessed the two play in a game together, on the same team, in the 2014 All-Star game. Just a reminder in case you forgot, Irving won the MVP award that night.
These two games have been very similar in the way they played out. The Cavaliers came out of the gates a bit sluggish on Sunday afternoon, but they managed to find their stride, and held a comfortable double-digit lead for the majority of the second half. So coming into Tuesday night, many Cavaliers fans were expecting an even better performance from the team. Yes, the team did look a bit sloppy at time, and they did display a lack of urgency and energy in spurts, but they figured it out at the right time and got it done, which is all you can ask for.
The truth is the Cavaliers have yet to play a full 48 minutes of complete and sound basketball in this series, yet they will still be heading to Boston with a two games to none lead. That's a good sign Cavs fans because we all know what this team is capable of when hitting on all cylinders. The Cavaliers score points in bunches, quicker than any other team in the NBA. No lead is safe against the Cavaliers, and on Tuesday night the Celtics learned the hard way. The Celtics led by eight in the second quarter only to see the Cavaliers score eight points in under a minute of action to tie the game. That's how lethal this Cavaliers team is offensively, and why many have picked them to win the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers certainly have areas to improve in after having to execute down the stretch to earn the victory over Boston, and one thing they desperately need more of is bench scoring. The Cavaliers were absolutely dominated in bench scoring by Boston on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers need their veterans to come in and provide more of a spark off of the bench. The Cavaliers also need to look to get J.R. Smith involved early on Thursday night. Smith has struggled in both of the Cavaliers playoff games against the Celtics, and a few early buckets could provide Smith the early confidence boost he needs to get him going. When James and Irving penetrate and find Smith, it's essential he knocks those shots down. It spaces the floor more, and forces the Cavaliers' opponent to respect the open shooter.
Anybody who expected the Cavaliers to have a cake walk to the ring ceremony and the parade obviously doesn't watch much basketball. It's the NBA, every team has talent, and that same goal in mind. When James was in Miami they didn't tap dance their way to two NBA Championships and four finals appearances in four years. James, and the Heat, earned those accolades by outplaying their competition year in and year out in the playoffs. James said it himself in his letter, nothing is given. He knew this would be a challenge, and that his patience would be tested. One thing's for sure: James' decision on July 11, 2014 to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers shifted the balance of power in the NBA, in a very big way.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @T_Rosen11