Celtics rip Cavs in opener

Arnold Nichols
May 16, 2018

"Just because we've had less experiences, we really don't dwell on that", he said.

Ouch. The hazards of the predicting business.

Jaylen Brown top-scored for the Celtics with 23 points. Marcus Morris got in Smith's face after Smith pushed Horford in the back to prevent a layup.

With that young talent, most would have agreed the C's were in a position to contend for a title starting next season.

Those injuries became an opportunity for growth for the 20-year-old Tatum, the 21-year-old Brown and Rozier, who is all of 24.

Their Eastern Conference Finals opponent Cavaliers are the third oldest team in the league with an average age of 28.

"We've got each other's backs, and that's it".

"I thought our guys did a really good job of weathering the initial storm". (Expletive), we're doing what it takes. Is it the high level leadership and locker room presence of the team's oldest and arguably most important piece, Al Horford? It's just the Celtics in a microcosm, as they want to come at opponents and attack you with a myriad of players, which is what they need to do with Hayward and Irving on the sideline. At the end of the day all the talking is done off the court. We see that. They're being physical. During his three seasons watching James upon the latter's return to the franchise from Miami, Griffin was a witness to many key moments that were led by the superstar, including winning the 2016 National Basketball Association championship. Today was a tremendous effort on one of the biggest stages we've all played on.

- The Celtics were trailing 61-52 in the third quarter, but bounced back to outscore the Cavs 32-16 over the final 9:15 of the frame.

"They're both great with the X's and O's", Baynes said.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the team's approach to defending James, "I think the biggest thing is we're just trying to make it as hard as possible".

"Their composure throughout the game is pretty much second to none", he added. You give them credit - they were the better team.

The byproduct of all this: The Celtics fought past the Milwaukee Bucks and dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Should a concussion be determined, James would have to take part in the league's concussion protocol before he could be cleared to play in Game 3 of the series.

What once seemed improbable - a trip to the NBA Finals - is now within reach.

"It's like a switch goes off and he just goes out there and plays", Horford said of Rozier after the game.

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