Rightfully so, the King was 5-0 since 2011 when losing the first game of a series in the Eastern Conference.
For the first time since the 2008 East Semifinals, LeBron James trails 0-2 in an intraconference playoff series. The Cavaliers were in control all of the first half, quieting the crowd as they held a seven point lead going into halftime.
Despite a red hot start by LeBron James, Cleveland could not maintain its 11-point advantage for very long against the Celtics.
"I think Marcus always makes plays at the right time", James said. Boston has been solid at the charity stripe as they sink 77.1 percent of their chances. James had just 15 points and missed all five of his three-point attempts in a game one defeat. Cleveland had 15 turnovers leading to 13 Boston points.
Terry Rozier scored 18 points, while Al Horford added 15 points and 10 boards for the Celtics. That sort of scoring balance (Aron Baynes chipped in nine) is the difference between the two teams in this series.
Cleveland didn't find any more discipline down the stretch. While neither of these players is known for their offense, they have both established themselves as smart and versatile defenders in the National Basketball Association. Cleveland did exactly that: for a half. The Cleveland Cavaliers are shooting 33.6 percent from beyond the arc and 75.8 percent from the free throw line.
J.R. Smith followed up his underwhelming Game 1 performance - where he scored four points on 2-for-9 shooting - with an even more dispiriting outing Tuesday.
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Lue's decision to turn to the erratic Smith and former Celtic Jeff Green as part of his crunch-time lineup was an abject failure. No James, who finished with a 40-point triple-double.
Then, when the Cavs cut the lead to six - a stretch aided by two minutes of shoddy offense and carelessness from the Celtics - and James had that look in his eye, the same one he flashed at the Pacers and Raptors, Lue went with another unusual quintet. Tristan Thompson moved into the starting lineup and had eight points plus seven boards: that wasn't almost enough on this night with Boston having six guys in double figures. "They can't protect themselves".
"He's known for it, especially playing against us", Smart said.
It's generous of James to take the responsibility for this loss, to assert that his game was not complete enough.
"We'll be better going back home". The Cavaliers have LeBron James and the Celtics have everything else in this series - coaching, depth, defense, athleticism, effort, offensive balance. The Celtics have not played with the same force and efficiency on the road in the playoffs (1-4).
And if you REALLY want to get technical, the Cavs' three-team deal with Utah also gave the Jazz the option of swapping 2024 second-round picks with Cleveland.
"I felt like I needed to go back to the locker room, which I did, and kind of recalibrate", James said.
Tuesday's game got physical as the Celtics pulled out all the stops to try and contain James.
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