Well that was unexpected — maybe not for the Celtics. Boston absolutely demolished the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, and will look to take a 2-0 lead in Tuesday’s Game 2.

Cleveland dealt with chaos throughout the regular season — including unloading half of its roster at the trade deadline — while Boston had injuries to the two players expected to lead them through the East. Where LeBron James is still playing like LeBron James, the Celtics have found heroics from unexpected places throughout these playoffs, specifically rookie Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics and the Cavaliers survived the Bucks and the Pacers — respectively — with both of those first-round series going to seven games. They then steamrolled their Conference Semifinal match-ups, with the Celtics halting The Process in just five games and the Cavaliers banishing the Raptors (again) in a sweep.

Here’s what you need to know about these teams going into the Eastern Conference Finals.

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers

How to watch Game 2

  • Date: Tuesday, May 15
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts
  • TV: ESPN
  • Live stream: WatchESPN.com or WatchESPN app

Recap of live updates

Playoff series schedule

  • Game 1 in Boston: Celtics 108, Cavaliers 83
  • Game 2 in Boston: Tuesday, May 15, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 3 in Cleveland: Saturday, May 19, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 4 in Cleveland: Monday, May 21, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 5* in Boston: Wednesday, May 23, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 6* in Cleveland: Friday, May 25, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
  • Game 7* in Boston: Sunday, May 27, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

* — if necessary

Regular-season series: Cleveland 2-1

Last season’s playoff results: Celtics eliminated by Cavaliers in Conference Finals 4-1, Cavaliers lost to Warriors in NBA Finals 4-1

Injury Report: Celtics G Shane Larkin out indefinitely (shoulder), Celtics G Kyrie Irving out for the season (knee), Celtics F Gordon Hayward out for season (ankle/leg), Celtics C Daniel Theis out for season (knee)

Celtics’ projected starting lineup: G Terry Rozier; G Jaylen Brown; F Jayson Tatum; F Marcus Morris C Al Horford

Warriors’ projected starting lineup: G George Hill; G JR Smith; F Kyle Korver; F LeBron James; F Kevin Love

Celtics win if …

They can do anything to limit LeBron James and his teammates shoot like they did in the first round. If the Cavaliers shoot like they did against the Raptors, there’s not much that you can do, but if you force the Cavalier offense to through James and take away his passing lanes, you have a chance. Brad Stevens is the best coach in this series and probably in the NBA, but James’ adaptability in real-time can limit that edge. If Rozier, Brown and Tatum shoot well in this series and Horford can put his body on somebody inside, the Celtics can pull off what would feel like an upset, two-seed or not. They’re banged up, but they’ve survived this long.

Cavaliers win if …

LeBron James. Obviously, “Cavaliers win if LeBron James” isn’t really a sentence, but at this point it may as well be. The player closest to James in total points is James Harden. Harden has 285 points to James’ 377. This team lives and dies with James, plain and simple, but he can’t do it alone. Korver, Love and Smith’s open looks need to fall, and the Cavaliers bench needs to pick up the slack. No matter who’s on the floor, James will be facilitating — his 99 assists are second this postseason only to the eliminated PelicansRajon Rondo — but the Cavaliers need to help James out, because if someone gets cold, the Celtics can exploit it.

SportsLine projections 

According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, the Cavaliers have a 75.0 percent chance of winning the series. SportsLine will have game-by-game gambling advice for every playoff series here.

2018 NBA Playoff Bracket


NBA Playoff bracket
Igor Mello/CBS Sports
Source link