Cleveland has a lot of issues. They’ve had them all season, it’s just that neither the Pacers (who cam close) or the Raptors (who didn’t) couldn’t exploit them well enough.
Among the areas Boston is beating Cleveland is physicality — the Celtics are bringing it and not all the Cavaliers are giving it back. And J.R. Smith‘s deserved flagrant for shoving Al Horford in the air isn’t how you do it. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue talked about it after the game.
“We’ve got to be tougher,” Lue said in his press conference. “I think they’re playing tougher than we are. We see that. They’re being physical. They’re gooning the game up, and we’ve got to do the same thing. We’ve got to be tougher, mentally and physically.”
The gooning phrase rubbed some fans the wrong way, as if Brad Stevens were sending out the Hanson brothers to crack some skulls. To me it reads as if Lue realizes just putting in Tristan Thompson wasn’t enough, he needs to do more.
Either way, the Celtics shrugged it off in a “welcome to playoff basketball” kind of way. As they should. Here is what Marcus Morris said, via ESPN.
“Gooning? That’s a good word,” Morris said. “S—, we’re doing what it takes. Whatever it takes, every player, one to 15, whatever it takes, that’s what we’re doing. You call it what you want to call it. We’re just trying to get the win.”
They are getting the wins.
Boston is in control of the series, but with it heading home where the Cavaliers have played much better — and the Celtics have struggled some on the road in the playoffs — this series is not over. However, if the Cavaliers don’t come up with some answers on how to be more physical and how to slow the Celtics’ offense down, it will be over eventually, and it’s the Cavaliers who will be headed to Cabo.