BOSTON – The final shot of the first half was indicative of how the game played out.
Cleveland had a rare miss that was tracked down by J.R. Smith.
He out-hustled a couple of Celtics to the loose ball, raised up along the baseline, clearly off-balance … SWISH!
It was that kind of game for the Boston Celtics, suffering a humiliating 130-86 loss to the defending champion Cleveland Cavs.
How bad was it?
Smith’s buzzer-beating shot gave Cleveland a 72-31 lead at the half. The 41-point margin was the largest playoff deficit any team faced in the first half of a game during the modern shot clock era.
And when it came to Boston’s struggles, no one had more problems with the Cavs defense than Isaiah Thomas who missed all six of his shots in the first half with his only points coming on a pair of free throws.
Finishing with just two points, Thomas was unable to return in the second half because of a right hip injury. His status for Game 3 on Sunday is unclear.
What is clear is Boston has quite a ways to go before they can compete let alone beat the Cavaliers who are getting stronger and stronger as they now find themselves just two wins away from a return trip to the NBA Finals and a shot at repeating as NBA champions.
Boston made a lineup change prior to tip-off, with Amir Johnson out and Gerald Green in.
The Celtics had made a similar move in their first-round series against Chicago, a move that paid off with a nice five-game winning streak with Green starting.
Boston’s lineup change rendered a similar result with Cleveland dominating in every way imaginable for most of the night.
The frustration of the beatdown took its toll on several Celtics, who were treading in quicksand with one forced shot after another, clearly trying to be the spark to get them back to at least playing competitive basketball.
Thomas picked up a technical foul at the 10:48 mark of the second quarter.
And 11 seconds prior to Thomas’ technical, the usually cool-as-they-come Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was whistled for one as well.
Boston showed flashes early on that maybe just maybe, we might actually have a decent game.
The Celtics opened on the short end of a 9-2 run, only to bounce back with an 8-2 spurt fueled by back-to-back 3’s by Green. After a pair of free throws by Thomas (his only points of the game), the Cavs called a time-out with 6:35 in the first quarter, with an 11-10 lead.
Cleveland’s stoppage of play seemed to be just what the Cavs needed to re-start their dominance at both ends of the floor as they went on a 12-0 run to lead 23-10.
Boston found itself in a familiar spot against the Cavs who used a dominant first half in Game 1 to propel themselves to a 117-104 win.
The Cavs continued to pour on the points, while the Celtics were seemingly helpless to do anything about it.
And the end result was one of the most lopsided playoff games in the modern shot clock era (1954-1955).