So much for rust.
LeBron James bullied his way to 38 points, Kevin Love added 32 and an energized Cleveland Cavaliers team defeated the Boston Celtics 117-104 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden, Wednesday.
Coming off 10 days of rest, the Cavaliers wasted no time getting back to their winning ways, building a 13-point first-quarter lead and never looking back. Facing little resistance, James drove to the basket early and often, scoring 15 points in the opening frame.
“We wanted to come out early and take the crowd out,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we did a good job of that.”
Tristan Thompson added 20 points and 9 rebounds for Cleveland, who have won nine straight games in this year’s playoffs.
“They did a great job of attacking the paint,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “We need to do a better job on both ends of the court so we don’t dig ourselves that hole. You can’t dig a hole like that against them.”
For the Celtics, it was a disappointing start after a whirlwind week. On Tuesday, Boston fans were elated when the team earned the number one overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. That development came a day after Boston clinched a hard-fought playoff series against the Washington Wizards.
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Rookie Jaylen Brown was a rare bright spot for the Celtics, scoring 10 points and pulling down 9 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics struggled to generate offense early, shooting 40 percent from the field and just 1-8 from three-point range in the first quarter.
Things did not improve for Boston, as the Cavaliers opened the second quarter with a 6-1 run, highlighted by two driving layups by Love.
The Celtics pulled to within 11 in the second when a Marcus Smart steal led to a three-point play. But the Celtics missed their next five shots and a Kevin Love three-pointer pushed the Cleveland lead to 21 with 5:43 remaining in the half.
Boston played better in the third quarter, sparked by 10 points from Jae Crowder. The Celtics made a run to close the quarter, keyed by seven points from Al Horford, and crawled to within 17.
In the fourth quarter, Boston again pulled to within 17 when Gerald Green made a three pointer with 7:41 remaining, but five quick points by James stifled hopes of a late comeback.
The Cavaliers’ win comes after the team swept the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors in the first two rounds of the playoffs, respectively.
Game 2 will be played Friday in Boston.