Celtics Notes: Cavaliers Series, Defense, Kornet, White

The Celtics fell to the Cavaliers, 118-94, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday, allowing Cleveland to shoot 46.4% from beyond the arc on 28 three-point attempts. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe opines that this was more than a case of the Celtics simply missing shots and allowing the Cavs to get hot — they were neutralized by the presence of Evan Mobley.

After getting blown out in Game 1, the Cavaliers ran through Mobley, who finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Donovan Mitchell scored 29 points while Caris LeVert contributed 21 off the bench. It was Cleveland’s first road playoff win in six years. Nothing was working for the Celtics, Washburn writes, beyond getting Jayson Tatum to the free-throw line (11 attempts), while Derrick White and Jrue Holiday ran cold (14 combined points).

I think when you lose a game like that, it could be a combination of tactics, a combination of effort, a combination of all those things,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “You treat it the same way you would a win, you come in, watch the film and you get better for Game 3.”

In a similar piece, Danny Chau of The Ringer analyzes Boston’s postseason, writing that Tatum hasn’t been the best version of himself through the first seven Celtics playoff games.

Nobody in [the locker room was] defeated or deflated,” Tatum said. “You never want to lose, especially in the playoffs. A lot of things we can learn from. We get it, right? The world thinks we’re never supposed to lose. We’re supposed to win every game by 25. And it’s just not going to be like that all the time.

We have more from the Celtics:
  • This is the second straight Game 2 in which the Celtics’ opponents got hot from beyond the arc and defeated Boston on its home floor, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. After Mitchell made five of his seven threes and 10 of his 19 shots on the night, guard Jaylen Brown said Boston had no excuse for allowing him to heat up. “It’s the playoffs, that can’t happen. I don’t care if you’re missing shots, you’ve got to guard the guy on the other end,” Brown said. “That allows you to miss more shots if you’re playing defense. But you can’t miss shots and then allow them to make shots at the other end. That was unacceptable.
  • Boston’s starters were taken out of the game with about five minutes left in regulation in Game 2, Jay King of The Athletic observes, with the team looking ahead to Game 3. “I just felt like that was the best thing to do at that particular time,” Mazzulla said. “We have another game coming up soon.” King writes how the Celtics respond will be most indicative of their ability to — or lack thereof — to win a championship.
  • Though he didn’t make a big impact in Game 2, backup center Luke Kornet was a huge reason why Boston blew out Cleveland in Game 1 of the series, MassLive’s Brian Robb writes. Kornet, who took on a larger role due to Kristaps Porzingis‘ absence, recorded four points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks in the victory, sparking the Celtics bench.
  • Like Kornet, White had a quieter Game 2 but was integral to Boston’s Game 1 success. White recorded 25 points and five assists in Game 1 while knocking down seven threes. In a separate piece, Weiss explores how White’s shooting is crucial to unlocking the Celtics’ offense. “It’s important because it means usually the shots he takes are because we’re either out in transition, we’ve set really good screens and he has that [look], or there are two-on-ones and we’re making extra passes,” Mazzulla said. “So I think when those guys get more and more shots, it means we’re getting to the different layers of our offense which is important against a team like [Cleveland].
View Comments (5)