Basketball

Celtics take 2-0 lead

Boston's physicality gives edge over Cavs, who had a 42-point effort from James

Jaylen Brown totalled 23 points and seven rebounds to help the Boston Celtics take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals with a 107-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Terry Rozier scored 18 points, while Al Horford added 15 points and 10 boards for the Celtics.

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.

Kevin Love added 22 points and 15 rebounds, but Kyle Korver (11 points) was the only other Cleveland player to score in double figures.

James has won five consecutive East play-off series after losing the series opener, although Boston, who improved to 9-0 at home this post-season, has never lost a best-of-seven play-off series when leading 2-0.

"We just play hard," Horford said.

We got to be tougher mentally and physically. They are gooning it up and we have got to do the same thing. Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue referring to Boston Celtics players as goons

"We compete. It's Celtics basketball. We're really embracing Celtics basketball. We've got one another's backs, that's it."

"We have an opportunity to go back home, protect home court," James said, ahead of Sunday's Game 3 in Cleveland.

"We're going to use these days to really dive in on what needs to be done to help our ballclub be successful. They did what they had to do and that was protect home, and now it's our time to try to do that as well."

GOONS

Brown knows that they can't let up in Game 3 because Cavaliers superstar James usually raises his game another notch after a loss.

"We need tremendous focus. He's one of best players of all time. But if there is anybody I would put my money on, it would be this group," Brown said.

The Celtics used a balanced attack as a half dozen players reached double figures. Cleveland had 15 turnovers leading to 13 Boston points and the Celtics had just six turnovers.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the team's approach to defending James: "The biggest thing is we were just trying to make it as hard as possible... We've got a lot of different guys guarding him.

"Jaylen started the game on him, (Marcus) Morris is guarding him a ton. I thought Semi (Ojeleye) did a good job on the couple of possessions he guarded him... He's unbelievable."

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said they need to be more physical and referred to the Boston players as goons.

"We got to be tougher mentally and physically," Lue said.

"They are gooning it up and we have got to do the same thing... In the third quarter, we had some miscommunication on defence and they scored some easy baskets.

"We'll be better going back home. We know that. They played well in that second half, and we've got to be ready to go on Saturday." - AFP, REUTERS

Basketball