Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Marcus Morris Was Not Joking When He Said He Would Stop LeBron

Marcus Morris Was Not Joking When He Said He Would Stop LeBron

The Cleveland Cavaliers had important adjustments to make before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals after a blowout loss against the Boston Celtics in Game 1.

As Love mentioned, just this postseason, the Cavs dropped Game 1 in the first round at in, with James putting up 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on 7-of-17 shooting in a 98-80 defeat.

Al Horford had 20 and the high-leaping Jayson Tatum added 16. And his 21 playoff wins against the Celtics were also the most against them during that span.

Al Horford vs Kevin Love - The two All-Stars who populate their respective frontcourts are the tactical lynchpins for their teams.

The opening game of a seven-game duel doesn't define a series, but it sets a tone.

But James came out like a man on a mission in Game 6, putting up a line of 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in the Heat's win. The Celtics, holding a protected Lakers pick that will become theirs in the unlikely event the selection lands at No. 2 or 3, have a 2.9 percent chance of that result.

James' 979 postseason points against Boston were the most by any player against any opponent in the last 50 years. Yes, Morris wasn't on James for every possession throughout the game but he was the primary defender.

J.R. Smith's buzzer-beating jumper had the Cavaliers within 78-64 after three quarters, but a Tatum finger roll put the Boston lead over 20 at 85-64 with 10:52 remaining.

Despite injuries and his diminished role this season with Love starting at center, Thompson, 27, still has postseason averages of 7.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. Shooting a dismal 15% on three-point attempts as a team didn't help Cleveland's effort either, nor did James' seven turnovers on the day. In the end, there was just too much Celtic firepower: Jaylen Brown sank three 3s and had 23 points.

"I expect him to have a big response", Love said of James on Monday. Morris, however, is one of the few players in the league who actually matches up reasonably well against him, and being backed by arguably the best defense in the National Basketball Association makes it that little bit easier to do again.

The Celtics took the floor to a hype video that began with the broadcast of Hayward's injury in the first quarter of the first game, at Cleveland. He was disappointing in the earlier rounds because they lost his offense, but the Celtics can not be sacrificing that while trying to account for James.

More worryingly as far the Cavs are concerned, LeBron has not scored 30 points in any of those meetings, while he's passed the threshold six times in the first 11 games he's played in this post-season.

The Celtics won Game 1, 108-83. "We had a bad game". "It's about us trying to answer that challenge and finding a new level defensively as well". The Cavs have proven during past rounds that they can take the opposition out of the contest early with an explosive stretch, so Boston must be prepared to handle such a situation.

For a repeat of Game 2 against IN, the Cavs are going to need more than what they got from James' supporting cast IN that game: 5-of-16 shooting from Love, five points from JR Smith, 16 points from their bench and a DNP-CD from Tristan Thompson. We weren't able to get there. So expect a hungry, tenacious Cavaliers team in Game 2. "That's what part of the playoff series is about", James said. If the past is any indication, LeBron is about to bounce back in a big way in game 2.

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