At no point did they ever come close to matching the Cavs' power in what seemed like such an uneven matchup. Change out Crowder for Brown and Thomas for Smart and that grouping put up 12 points in four minutes, and was a plus-three.
"And that's the reason why we're riding him so much", Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, 40, said after the game. It didn't go well: The Celtics were outscored by 20 points when Thomas was on the floor. After Boston had apparently gotten their deficit under 40 points, J.R. Smith capped the near-perfect half for the Cavaliers with a turnaround jumper at the buzzer. Kevin Love is the third double-digit scorer and Tristan Thompson is grabbing 10.4 rebounds.
"Doubling is really scary against these guys, but it may be necessary", Stevens said. He also had six assists, three rebounds and three blocked shots.
There were a number of times when Love simply drifted to the corner and waited for a pass that often didn't come, and he sometimes disappeared from games if he didn't get involved in the offense early on. "I think if we do that - the clips were showing that where we did that, we played good defense that possession, we got stops, but when we left guys on islands and by themselves and not talking and communicating, that's when they went on their run and opened the game up". "We started out tonight being aggressive and being pissed off".
During the six-game series with the Chicago Bulls in the first round, Thomas averaged 23 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 43 percent from the field and 81.1 percent from the free-throw line.
"We didn't try to rattle him", point guard Kyrie Irving said. "That's why we have the luxury of having a Big 3". "It's great to be in a locker room like that", James said. But it's very likely we see more those smaller lineups going forward, and maybe even to start the game rather than end it.
Throughout the 82-game regular season, the Boston Celtics did their best to secure the top spot within the Eastern Conference.
The 41-point halftime deficit is a record for any playoff game in National Basketball Association history.
Cleveland at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
A lot of that will fall on Isaiah Thomas, who missed eight of his first nine shots. "We're going back home, but we're not going to get comfortable".
"We're not just happy to be here", Isaiah continued.
"There's no such thing as complacency in the playoffs", James said. "Obviously, we don't know the exact adjustments, but we know they're going to make adjustments. We need some of those things, so I would expect him to continue to play a large role for us in this series".
Boston coach Brad Stevens said Thomas originally aggravated a nagging right hip injury during Game 6 last Friday in the second-round series against the Washington Wizards and underwent a batch of testing before playing in Boston's Game 7 win Monday night.