The Cavs continued their run of dominance in the Eastern Conference Playoffs on Wednesday night, easily dispatching the Celtics in a 117-104 Game 1 win. Cleveland’s ninth straight win cast more doubts on whether the top-seeded Celtics will be able to hang this round against the defending champions.
Here’s a look at four things that the Celtics will need to improve right away in order to give themselves a chance against LeBron James and company:
1. Put up more than a fight on the glass against Tristan Thompson
The Cavs’ 6-foot-9 big man picked up right where he left off in the regular season against Boston on the offensive glass. He grabbed six offensive rebounds in Game 1, using his strength, speed and length to gain position on the block against the likes of Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Amir Johnson for most of the night. Those six offensive rebounds led to him scoring seven of Cleveland’s 15 second-chance points, helping the Cavs build a huge lead that put the game out of reach for Boston early.
Marcus Smart provided some resistance in the third quarter when faced with the task of boxing out Thompson, but that physical mentality is one that the rest of the Celtics’ lineup needs to adopt against Thompson. Cleveland’s exceptional ball movement means there will be plenty of switching and rebounding mismatches on certain possessions. Boston’s bigs and wings need to take a cue from the fight Smart showed, otherwise Brad Stevens may be better off just putting Smart on the big man for the entire game.
2. Fight harder through on-ball screens against LeBron
The early defensive strategy from the…
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