Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals went about as poorly for Boston as they could have imagined. LeBron James was dominant and making Kelly Olynyk look helpless. Tristan Thompson scored 20, and he and the Cavaliers owned the boards. Cleveland’s defense seemed to smother everything Boston tried, at least early. It even looked at times like Isaiah Thomas was hesitant trying to find seams and opportunities against the Cavaliers.
Adjustments will be made, but it’s not clear what Boston can do to change the series in a meaningful way. That said, don’t expect the Celtics to go into Game 2 Friday night scared. They believe they can win, as Thomas told Matt Moore of CBSSports.com.
“I believe in these guys,” Thomas said at practice on Thursday. “We’re not scared of Cleveland. They’re not the Monstars. They’re not on ‘Space Jam.’ Like, they lace up their shoes just like us. They just happened to play better than us in Game 1, and we’ve just got to protect home court in Game 2 and get the win…
“We’re not just happy to be here,” Thomas said. “Like, we want to win this series, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We want to let everybody in this world know that we’re for real, and we’re one of the top teams in the NBA, and with this series we’ve got to go out and show the world because like everybody knows, everybody is counting us out. And we’ve been there before, though, so it’s nothing new for us.”
I love Thomas’ attitude, and I’d expect nothing less from him and the Celtics.
It just doesn’t change the underlying dynamics of the series. The bottom line is only one of these teams has LeBron James and the other is in trouble.