After long rest, Cavs crush Celtics in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

After long rest, Cavs crush Celtics in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

BOX SCORE

BOSTON — LeBron James embarrassed every defender Boston threw at him and the Cleveland Cavaliers picked up where they left off following a long layoff, rolling to a 117-104 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

James had 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

"He's playing at a high level. And that's the reason why we're riding him so much," coach Tyronn Lue said. "When LeBron's playing at that level other guys just have to be solid and we have a good chance to win."

Coming off a 10-day break, James and Cavaliers raced to an early lead were never threatened.

"You can't dig yourself in a big hole like that against them," Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

Kevin Love added a playoff career-high 32 points and had 12 rebounds to help the Cavaliers improve to 9-0 in the first three rounds of the playoffs. They opened 10-0 last season en route to their first NBA title.

Game 2 is Friday night in Boston.

James scored at will in the first half and the Cavs built a 26-point lead. Love opened up the floor for James, burying outside jumpers and forcing Boston to leave defenders one-on-one with James.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the Celtics with 21 points each. Isaiah Thomas had 17 points. Boston missed 11 of its first 14 shots.

Love averaged a quiet 13.8 points in the first two rounds, then broke out against a Boston team that knocked him out of the 2015 playoffs when he became tangled with Kelly Olynyk and dislocated his shoulder.

The shoulder was working just fine Wednesday, and he scored in the paint and from the outside.

Things got a little testy in the third quarter when Boston's Marcus Smart and Cleveland's Tristan Thompson got nose-to-nose and had to be separated by referees. Some jawing continued briefly before James stepped in to pull Thompson away.

Smart and Thompson were called for double technical on the play, but got tangled again a few minutes later. This time, Smart fell to the floor during that exchange, drawing a foul on Thompson.

The Celtics found some energy after the incident, closing the third quarter on an 11-3 run to pull to 92-75.

It didn't last long, though, as the Cavs quickly got the lead back up to 20.

James picked apart every defender that the Celtics threw at him in the first half.

He backed down defenders to set up 15-foot fade away jumpers. Other times, he simply took defenders off the dribble or sliced through double-teams on the way to layups.

Boston also seemed content to make every switch created by Cleveland screens, leading to some awkward matchups for James in the first half. In one such instance, Olynyk found himself one-on-one with James, who promptly drove past him and drew a foul at the rim.

The Celtics couldn't get anything working when they had the ball, held to just 35 percent from the field in the first half and 2 for 16 from beyond the arc.

The Cavs also held Thomas at bay offensively. He was 3 for 11 overall and 1 for 4 from the 3-point line after 24 minutes.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Since Game 5 of NBA finals, Cleveland has won a franchise-record 12 straight playoff games. ... The Cavs hold a 33-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents (16-3 on the road)

Celtics: Finished with 14 turnovers, and were outrebounded 32-27. ... Lost at home for the first time since Game 2 of first round against Chicago.

Draymond fully appreciates 'witnessing greatness' of Warriors-Cavs trilogy

Draymond fully appreciates 'witnessing greatness' of Warriors-Cavs trilogy

OAKLAND -- The hoops historian Draymond Green has a message for those with short memories and cynical outlooks.

The NBA is never better than when The Finals have legendary potential, as is the case with the Warriors and Cavaliers, who next week become the first teams to meet three consecutive seasons to determine a champion.

“It’s a great thing for the league, contrary to popular belief,” Green said Friday after Warriors practice.

Warriors-Cavs Part III is, in fact, a fantastic boon for the league. Interest will peak. Ratings will soar. Storylines will cascade down every mountain, knoll and molehill.

“Right now, you’re witnessing greatness -- two great teams, great players,” Green said. “That’s what it is. It probably won’t be appreciated until it’s over. Say we meet again next year? It still won’t be appreciated -- until we don’t meet again and you realize what you had.”

What fans have is history made, with more in the making.

The Warriors enter The Finals after an unprecedented 12-0 start to the playoffs, becoming the first team to complete three four-game sweeps in a single postseason.

Another sweep, and it’s not inconceivable, would make these Warriors the first team in NBA history with a perfect postseason -- give them the distinction of having the best postseason in American sports history.

The Cavaliers enter The Finals after a 12-1 start and, moreover, with the reheated debate over whether LeBron James has a body of work that equals or surpasses that of Michael Jordan. James is one game removed from surpassing Jordan to become No. 1 on the all-time list for playoff scoring and will make his seventh consecutive appearance in The Finals, something Jordan never did.

Though a Cleveland victory would bolster any argument in James’ favor, a Cleveland loss might be enough to close the case in Jordan’s favor insofar as his Bulls reached six NBA Finals and won them all.

Warriors-Cavaliers has the potential to go beyond what most believe to be the most epic of postseason rivals, that being the Magic Johnson and the Lakers versus Larry Bird and the Celtics. They met only three times (1984, ’85 and ’87) but the NBA went a full 10 seasons with one team or the other in The Finals.

Being a student of the game, Green quite likely knows that -- as well as having a complete understanding of the possibilities ahead.

Even if he suspects others may not.

“But you usually don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it any more,” he said. “Maybe there’s just a lack of appreciation for greatness. When you look at the situation, most people have never reached greatness. So, maybe there’s just not an understanding of what you’re watching.

“I appreciate it. I’m happy we’ve been able to steam-roll people, and I love the fact that they’ve been able to steam-roll people. I just love great things. And I think right now we’ve found two great teams.”

Ayesha Curry shows off rap skills with Steph and E-40 on stage

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AP

Ayesha Curry shows off rap skills with Steph and E-40 on stage

Steph Curry has earned the nickname "Chef Curry" but his wife Ayesha is the real cook of the family.

Ayesha has paved her own path as a successful cook and was brought to BottleRock in Napa for a demonstration. As Steph and rapper E-40 joined her on stage, Ayesha took one of out of E-40's book and did her own remix of Drake's "Energy." 

In this version, Ayesha rapped about what she knows best -- recipes. 

All hyped up, Ayesha dropped the mic to the delight of Steph and E-40 himself.