Who needs home court?
In Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals, it didn't matter as the Cavaliers handled the Boston Celtics, 117-104 in front of a sell out crowd at TD Garden. The Cavs led from the opening tipoff and held the upper hand for most of the game and led by as much as 28 points at one point in the third quarter.
It was the Cavs 12th-straight playoff win dating back to last season. The Cavs are now 9-0 in this year's postseason.
The Cavs front court starters dominated the Celtics, 90-32. In the first half alone, the Cavs front court out scored Boston, 47-12. LeBron James finished with 38 points, while Kevin Love had 32 and Tristan Thompson added 20 points. James has scored 30 or more points in eight of the first nine playoff games. Thompson set a new playoff career high. Kyrie Irving rounded out the double figure scoring with 11 points.
The Cavs set the tone on defense, limiting the Celtics to just 39 points in the first half. James said that was big.
"Energy and our defensive intensity," James said. "We had some lulls in the third quarter, but we brought some energy and intensity."
Tyronn Lue said he felt James set the tone.
"LeBron did a good job of setting the tone early," Lue said. "LeBron and Kevin really got us going."
Buoyed by a 14-2 run in the first quarter, Cleveland led 22-9 with 4:14 to play and led 30-19 after the first quarter. James scored 10 points in the first quarter, despite the Cavs not making a three-point shot in the first period.
"We wanted to set the tone early and give it everything we got," Thompson said.
The Cavs took a 48-25, 23-point lead on dunk by Thompson on a lob from Kyrie Irving to finish a 12-0 run with 5:17 left in second quarter. Love hit two free throws for 24-point lead at 53-29 with 2:58 left in second quarter. James hit a driving layup with four seconds left in the first half to give the Cavs a 25-point lead at 61-36 before Isaiah Thomas hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to make the halftime score, 61-39.
In the third quarter, Love hit five three's as the Cavs built a 28-point lead at 88-60 with under five minutes left in the third quarter. With a late run in the third quarter, the Celtics cut the Cavs lead from 28 to 17 points at 92-75 with a 15-4 run.
However, the Cavs were able to extend the lead right back to 20 points as Kyle Korver opened the fourth with a trey for 95-75 lead and the Celtics were only able to make the final closer in the final moments.
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the Celtics with 21 points each. Isaiah Thomas was held to 17 points.
Home Court Advantage Back to Cavs: The Celtics finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed, thus host the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. However, with the Cavs win in Game 1, the advantage shifts to Cleveland as two of the next three are at Quicken Loans Arena.
Front Court Domination: The Cavs front court starters out scored the Celtics 90-32, including 47-12 in the first half. LeBron James had 38 points, Kevin Love 32 and Tristan Thompson added 20 points, a playoff career high.
Charity Stripe Domination: The Cavs were aggressive on offense attacking the rim and shot 35 free throws, making 28 for 80 percent. LeBron James was 9-of-11 and Kevin Love was 8-of-9. Boston was 10-of-18 for 55.6 percent. Isaiah Thomas was just 1-of-3 from the free throw line.
Rested: Ty Lue said he'd take rest over rust any time. The Cavs had a long wait to play Game One as they finished the series with Toronto on May 7.
DEFENSE: The Cavs did a good job of slowing down Isaiah Thomas. In the first first half, Thomas was just 3-of-11 from the field and was held to just 8 points, including a long three-point shot to end the first half. Thomas finished with 17 points and 10 assists on 7-of-19 shooting (36.8 pct.). Kelly Olynk, who was the Celtics star in the Game 7 win over the Wizards with 26 points was held to two points. Al Horford had just 11 points.
TT: Tristan Thompson had a big game with 20 points and 9 rebounds. He started well with 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half. The 20 points was a playoff career high for Thompson.
RJ Sighting: Richard Jefferson, who did not play much against the Raptors started the second and fourth quarters.
Late Channing: Channing Frye, who has been big in the Cavs bench rotation was not in the rotation until the final three minutes when the game was out of reach.
"It was Channing's birthday, but he knew he probably wouldn't play, and he was alright with that," Lue said. "It's all about winning. RJ came in and gave us a lift."
Poor 3 Shooting Start: In the first half, the Cavs were just 2-of-9 (22.2 pct.) but the Celtics were worse at 2-of-16 (12.5 pct.) The Cavs started 0-of-6 from behind the arc before Iman Shumpert made first three with 8:17 left in second quarter. Boston started 1-of-15 before Isaiah Thomas hit a long three to end the first half. Both teams picked it up in the second half. Kevin Love hit his first four attempts in the third quarter from behind the arc. The Cavs finished 11-of-31 for 35.5 pct. Kevin Love hit 6-of-9 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Kyle Korver and LeBron James were just 1-of-6 and Kyrie Irving was 0-of-3. Boston was 12-of-38 for 31.6 pct. Jae Crowder was 4-of-6.
Closing In: LeBron James started the series with 5,847 points to trail Michael Jordan by 140 points on the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list entering the Eastern Conference Finals. James has scored 30 or more points in 8 of the 9 playoff games this season. He scored 38 points in Game One and now has 5,885 and is now just 102 points behind Jordan.
Keeping it Low: The Cavs had just eight turnovers in the game and had 21 assists.
Next Up: Game 2 will be at TD Garden on Friday night at 8:30 pm. Games 3 and 4 will be at Quicken Loans Arena on Sunday and Tuesday.