James fires up, but Celtics win

Celtics withstand James' huge night

Celtics withstand James' huge night

For the first time since the 2008 East Semifinals, LeBron James trails 0-2 in an intraconference playoff series. Game three is Sunday in Cleveland.

Now facing an 0-2 deficit, it appears the Cleveland Cavaliers will remain at full strength when they return to face the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday. Team effort is the key here, with Terry Rozier leading the comeback in the second half. Brown and the C's have a 2-0 lead over the Cavs. The play below signifies just how en fuego James was in the first period, as Marcus Smart defended him as well as you could possibly imagine, forcing the ball out of his hands, before bodying him out to the three point line with the shot clock about to expire. The King may have had 'Zero level of concern' following game 1 of the series when he underwhelmed in a 15-point performance as his primary defender Marcus Morris outscored him.

Celtics' victory on Tuesday night, May 15, also capped a still unbroken string of homecourt wins this postseason for Boston. That sort of scoring balance (Aron Baynes chipped in nine) is the difference between the two teams in this series. However, the Celtics have shown no reason to bet against them in this series or these playoffs overall.

In other scheduling news, Joey Kaufman of the Orange County Register (linked here by LA Daily News) tells us that USC men's basketball will play TCU at Staples Center on December 7 as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic, which will also feature Arizona State-Nevada and New Mexico-Saint Mary's. Cleveland did exactly that: for a half. If a 40-point triple-double from James isn't enough to stave off these upstart Celtics, what else can Cleveland throw at them?

"[Smith has] taken big shots", Lue said, which is as true of Korver as it is of Smith. The Boston Celtics are allowing 33 percent shooting from deep and are grabbing 43.1 rebounds per game. The Cavaliers have been good at the line, cashing in 75.8 percent of their chances. But coach Tyronn Lue stuck with Smith for 27 minutes, giving just 21 minutes to Kyle Korver, who had 11 points and was 4-for-8 from the field (2-for-5 on 3s). The Celtics' underdog vibe is harder to resist this time. Kevin Love was forced to defend the penetration, Cleveland missed a defensive rotation, and Baynes was able to finish a ideal lob to give Boston the lead. But without star players Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics are vulnerable on the road.

Cleveland finds itself in the situation they didn't want to be in: down 2-0 heading home where a slow start could lead to the crowd turning on them. There's a ton of time off between games and maybe that helps Cleveland clear its head and get back on track.

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals had it all. Boston is 1-4 on the road this postseason, and Cleveland is 5-1 at Quicken Loans Arena.

LeBron James recorded 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers, marking his NBA-record 17th career play-off game with 30 points and 10 assists. James can (and will) get his, but the Celtics are more than happy to pick on his lackluster supporting cast with their never-ending stream of switchable two-way wings.