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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Game 1: Celtics at Cavs

First round of Eastern Conference playoffs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. The Cavaliers did what they set out to do: Win Game 1. It doesn't matter if they game was sloppy. It doesn't matter if it was ugly. All that matters is they won the game. They'll need 15 more of these to win the ultimate goal - an NBA championship.

2. The Big Three stepped up big tonight. Kyrie Irving's was silky smooth right from the start. He fired in his first five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 30 points. The Celtics bemoaned the fact they were right in his face on many of his shots and it didn't matter. He still knocked down the shots.

3. I was very impressed with power forward Kevin Love's game. He started 2 of 11 from the field, yet he still finished with 19 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, four assists and one steal. He just kept grinding away. He was 7 of 8 from the foul line. LeBron James said that shows him how aggressive Love was in the game.

4. James had 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a block. He didn't shoot the ball very well - 8 of 18 - and turned the ball over five times. He did a very good job of leading this team, keeping his teammates encouraged and facilitating. When Love was 2 of 11, he was tapping him on the head, keeping him into the game. The Cavs were trailing by seven or eight points in the first half. James huddled the troops and told them everything was going to be OK. Of course, it turned out that way. 

5. Talent normally takes over in games like this. Boston is going to fight this team to the final second of the series. They just don't have the talent to win the series. I picked the Cavs to win in five games. Many other "experts" predicted a sweep. I think the Celtics can win Game 3 when the series shifts to Boston. If they don't win that game, they are cooked. Then the Cavs will sweep.

6. The Cavaliers are one of the NBA's elite teams. The Cavs and Warriors have been established by Las Vegas oddsmakers as favorites to win the NBA title. I'm starting to believe it myself.

7. James has never lost a first-round series in his career. It probably isn't going to happen against Boston, either. He's 9-0 lifetime in the first round. 

8. James is poised to set several playoff milestones. He passed Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao for career playoff games. James has now played in 72 career playoff games with the Cavs. He's two offensive rebounds shy of passing John "Hot Rod" Williams (99) for fourth place on the Cavs' all-time list. 

9. He's also on the verge of moving up the ranks on the NBA's all-time lists: He's 19 points away from passing Jerry West (4,457) for seventh all-time. He overtook No. 9 Michael Jordan (1,022) on the all-time list for playoff assists. James now has 1,023. He's 15 free throws away from passing Shaquille O'Neal (1,168) for sixth all-time. James is six 3-pointers made from passing Jason Kidd for ninth all-time and three steals from overtaking Robert Horry (276) for 10th all-time.

10. Since the Cavs added J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from New York on Jan. 5, they've led the NBA in 3-pointers made with 11.6 per game. They were 13 of 31 from the arc tonight. 

11. The Cavs have won 21 of their last 22 games at The Q. They ended 31-10 at home during the regular season. Wonder why it's important to get homecourt advantage in the playoffs? Because they play so well at home. They are an NBA-best 35-9 in the last 44 games.

UP NEXT: vs. Boston, Quicken Loans Arena, Game 2 of Eastern Conference playoffs, 7 p.m. Tuesday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Evan Turner (6-7, 205)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 225) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2, 180)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Marcus Smart (6-4, 220)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Joe Harris
Celtics - G Chris Babb, G/F James Young
Mike Callahan, Pat Fraher, Zach Zarba


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