BOSTON (CBS) — Game 2 was better for the Boston Celtics, but it brought about the same result: a loss.
Multiple times on Tuesday night, the Celtics looked poised to make a run, close the gap and possibly take a late lead. But every time, the Cavaliers were just too strong. Every single time, LeBron James or Kyrie Irving answered.READ MORE: Bear Causes 3-Car Crash On Mass Pike
It could be considered a frustrating series of events, but head coach Brad Stevens saw it as progress.
“I thought for the most part we made those guys earn everything they got, and I think that that’s a step in the right direction from Game 1,” Stevens said. “But I still think we can hopefully improve a little bit on those guys.”
While you’ll never be able to fully stop scorers like James and Irving, there’s a lot more the Celtics can do if they hope to make the most of home court later this week. Here are a few takeaways from the Cavaliers’ 99-91 win in Game 2.
Isaiah Thomas Can Score In Seemingly Impossible Ways
Without question, the Celtics’ main source of offensive life was Isaiah Thomas. For the second straight game, he led all Celtics in scoring with 22 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field and 10-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Thomas hit some ridiculous shots while getting fouled under the basket, and he’s been exciting to watch. But he can’t do it on his own. He’s the Celtics’ sixth man for a reason, and if they hope to change their luck going forward, they’ll need someone else to at least come close to scoring 20 points. Speaking of which …
Evan Turner Needs To Hit A Few More Shots
Turner was 3-for-11 from the field in Game 2. He was 4-for-12 in Game 1. His season shooting percentage was .429, yet he’s just over 30 percent thus far in the series.
In fairness, a number of his shots come when he’s completely overmatched near the basket. But he’s also missed a few easy ones that can add up. Against a Cavaliers team that is clearly bigger and more talented, the Celtics can’t afford to let any easy baskets slip away.
Celtics Must Account For Tristan Thompson
Tristan Thompson is visible on television, but on the court, he seems to be invisible to anyone wearing green. The 6-foot-9 Thompson has managed to be left all alone rather frequently, and the Cavs have gotten a number of extra possessions as a result. After pulling down four offensive rebounds in Game 1, Thompson outdid himself by grabbing five in Game 2. He has 17 rebounds in his 52 minutes in the series thus far, and his 11 rebounds in Game 2 were more than Jared Sullinger (5), Kelly Olynyk (2) and Brandon Bass (2) in 58 combined minutes.
“I thought at the end of the game, those offensive rebounds by Thompson obviously separated it when we were coming back,” Stevens said. “Those were huge, huge plays.”READ MORE: Massachusetts Is Among Least Kind States In America, Study Finds
Kevin Love Doesn’t Look Like A Superstar
This might not matter in this particular series, but if the Cavaliers are supposed to be a title contender, they’ll need more out of their All-Star power forward. Love got in early foul trouble and was mostly a non-factor throughout. He finished with 13 points and six rebounds, but he also had four turnovers and five fouls. He’s been good, sure, but you expect better from him. His future this offseason remains very, very intriguing.
And it was pretty awesome.
Timofey Mozgov Is In Full-On Kendrick Perkins Mode
Kendrick Perkins only played two minutes in Game 2, registering absolutely nothing on the stat sheet. But his influence on the game was obvious in the play of teammate Timofey Mozgov. The 7-foot-1 center bulldozed right through the chest of Tyler Zeller early on, and after waiting a tick for a whistle that never came, he went up for an easy dunk. Later, when Evan Turner drove to the basket and pump-faked with LeBron on his back, Mozgov went up and came down with a swinging arm right upside Turner’s head.
He made life difficult for the Celtics near the basket, eventually fouling out but sending more than a couple of messages along the way. Perk was no doubt impressed.
LeBron James Is A Frightening Opponent
This much we knew heading in, but his performance in Game 2 was particularly noteworthy because the 30-year-old seemed to expend the energy of a man in warmups. He never had to push himself to his own physical limits, yet he still was able to drop 30 points and pick up nine rebounds with seven assists. That included a half-court lob to Love as well as the slamming down of an alley-oop on a 2-on-1 break as part of a third-quarter run that electrified the home crowd.
Imagine what he can do if he’s pushed to give it 100 percent?
“He’s obviously a great competitor,” Stevens said of LeBron. “He’s also the most physically talented, and he’s one of the best, certainly, mental players in the game. You add that together, and you’ve got a heck of a guy, a heck of a player. It’s why he’s considered one of the all-time best, and it’s why he’s considered one of the best in the game right now.”MORE NEWS: State Police Seek Men Who Broke Into Boston High Rise