BOSTON (CBS) — We knew it wasn’t going to be easy for the Boston Celtics against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics dropped Game 1 of their playoff series on Sunday, 113-100 in Cleveland. Boston jumped out to an early lead and took a 31-27 advantage into the second quarter, but they couldn’t slow down LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, trailing by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. Boston cut the lead to six before the Cavs went on a 9-0 run to close the third, and never got closer than 10 points in the game’s final frame.READ MORE: Hurley's Picks: Bucs Are Scary Good, And Cowboys Have To Hope For No Mike McCarthy Hauntings
Read: Game 1 Recap
The Celtics now find themselves in a 1-0 series hole, but remain confident.
“We’ll learn from it and improve from it,” Boston head coach Brad Stevens said after the loss. “We have to learn from what we didn’t do well and try to continue what we did do well.”
“We’re still confident,” said guard Isaiah Thomas. “Coach said we did a lot of really great things and did some bad things, and those evened out. We’re still confident and guys are ready for Game 2, knowing that good or bad, you need to have a short memory.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s loss in Game 1:
Strong Start By Celtics
The Celtics got off to a great start in this one, taking a 31-27 edge into the second quarter. Still, Brad Stevens still wasn’t very pleased with his team.
He wasn’t happy with the 27 points the Cavaliers scored in the frame, and knew if his Celtics kept giving Cleveland second-chance opportunities, they wouldn’t be able to slow down their offense. But the Celtics had a great quarter offensively, shooting 57.1 percent from the floor. Tyler Zeller led the way with six points, and Kelly Olynyk provided a big boost off the bench with 10 points.
But the start didn’t matter in the end, as the Celtics couldn’t carry that energy throughout the rest of the game.
Bradley, Turner Need To Step Up In Game 2
Avery Bradley had one of his worst games of the season, shooting 3-for-10 from the floor and 1-for-6 from long-range, finishing with seven points and three fouls.
Even Turner had stretches where he played well, but overall was all over the place in Game 1. He finished with 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists, but was a minus-18 in his 34 minutes on the floor.
Both players will have to be better in Game 2 if the Celtics want to steal a win in Cleveland.
Celtics Have To Be Better On GlassREAD MORE: BMC Doctor Fined For Falling Asleep And Missing Surgery
The Celtics lost the rebounding war 46-34, with a the Cavs holding a 35-12 rebounding edge after three quarters. Cleveland had 15 offensive rebounds in this one, compared to Boston’s seven.
Boston will have to go to work on the glass in Game 2.
Secret Weapon — Kelly Olynyk?
Birthday boy Kelly Olynyk, who turned 24 on Sunday, was a huge factor off the bench when the Celtics dropped 31 points in the first quarter. He hit all four of his shots for 10 points, including an emphatic dunk off a nice feed from Thomas.
Olynyk finished the game with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and started over Zeller in the second half. He’ll need to be more aggressive on the boards though, as he only pulled down two rebounds in his 18 minutes.
Thomas Up To Postseason Challenge
Isaiah Thomas was solid in his playoff debut, scoring 22 points for Boston off the bench. He was 6-for-14 from the field, hitting a pair of three pointers, and hit all eight of his free throws.
Irving and Love Not Scared Of Playoffs
While a handful of Celtics made their postseason debuts on Sunday, so did a pair of Cleveland stars. And neither of them had trouble with the spotlight or expectations that come with the playoffs.
Boston did a pretty decent job holding LeBron in check (funny that 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists is keeping James in check), but that gave Kyrie Irving an opportunity to steal the show. The Cavs point guard led all scorers with 30 points, and hit a few back-breaking three pointers despite having Celtics defenders draped on top of him. Irving finished 5-for-9 from long range and 11-for-21 overall, which will likely cause the Celtics to shift their defensive focus just a little bit for Game 2.
As for the other part of Cleveland’s trio, Kevin Love was solid as well. He finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and hit a key three with 3:32 left to slow a Boston run that cut the Cavs’ lead to 10 points.
No playoff experience? No problem for the Cavs.
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