The Celtics lead the series, 2-0. "If we win, that's all that matters". In what has become a regular theme for the Cavs over the course of the season, confusion once again reigned over their defensive rotations as both James and Love were drawn to the ball handler Smart, who threatened penetration off a Baynes screen.
"I'm going to go home tonight and see my three kids, see my family, recalibrate, see my mom", James said after the game. "We see that. They're being physical, they're gooning the game up and we gotta do the same thing".
In other scheduling news, Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register (linked here by LA Daily News) tells us that USC men's basketball will play TCU at Staples Center on December 7 as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, which will also feature Arizona State-Nevada and New Mexico-Saint Mary's. I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
Rooting against Boston is a time-honored tradition in my circle of native New Yorkers, Howard University alums and others who now call D.C. our home. Not to mention his dirty flagrant 1 foul when he pushed Celtic's center Al Horford mid-air as he was trying to finish a layup.
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"He didn't quit. You saw it - I mean, gah!" said Kimberly Williams, a chuckle catching in her thick southern drawl as she recalled Smart's diving save.
"We just play hard", Horford said. "I thought Semi (Ojeleye) did a good job on the couple of possessions he guarded him, which is really hard - to just come off the bench, not in the flow of the game, and put a body in front of him".
"We've got to come and give energy, extraordinary energy all the time, and I just try to be that spark plug". Cleveland had 15 turnovers leading to 13 Boston points and the Celtics had just six turnovers.
"One of my guys was down, and I took offense to it".
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James was on the attack from the opening tip. The Celtics actually played phenomenal defense in that first quarter, and they made sure to maintain that same kind of pressure.
James was also astoundingly efficient, using his dribble to create space, while he knocked down an assortment of jump shots. The flagrant was the cherry on top of an absolutely terrible night for Smith, who finished with no points on 0-of-7 shooting from the field.
His momentum was stunted briefly at the 3:50 mark of the second quarter, when Jayson Tatum was whistled for a foul after catching James jaw with his shoulder as he attempted a steal. Cleveland would be better-suited standing pat and selecting someone like Oklahoma guard Trae Young or Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr.to anchor their upcoming rebuild, although neither of those players figure to move the needle on convincing James to re-up with the Cavs.
The Cavaliers said James had a neck sprain. If Boston is working the Cavaliers like a punching bag without Irving and Hayward, imagine what happens when those two return to the fold next year. I'd personally go with Ayton, but it's tough to overlook a 19-year-old who is averaging 16.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists against grown men in Euroleague competition. "Our group in tough times, we've always found a way".
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