NBA playoffs 2017: Cavs' defense problem Thomas, Celts couldn't solve in Game 1 – Sporting News

BOSTON — This game may have been lost on its first possession, 26 seconds into the action. Celtics star point guard Isaiah Thomas came off a screen from Al Horford on the top right wing and accepted a handoff. Immediately, guard J.R. Smith collapsed on Thomas, forcing him into the corner. He was quickly joined by power forward Kevin Love, and Thomas found himself a 5-9 squirrel looking up at 13-plus feet of pines.

Thomas tried to find daylight. Instead, Love stripped the ball from Thomas for a turnover. The Cavaliers never looked back from there. They led wire to wire and won 117-104 to open the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden.

SN GAME CENTER: Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1 stats

“We know Isaiah is dangerous,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “When he gets going, the crowd really gets into it, their team gets into it and it opens up a lot of things. When you try to take him out of the series, try to make it tough on him, you’ve got to give up something else. . . . But our main objective (was) to make it physical on Isaiah, try to take him out, and we did a good job of that.”

Thomas said he was not surprised by anything he saw from the Cavaliers. “They played how they played throughout the season,” he said. “I just missed shots. Didn’t get a rhythm. Next game, I will definitely be more aggressive to get into the paint, make plays and make stuff happen.”

Thomas had 10 assists but only 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting, which fit the pattern of star-removal by Cleveland’s defense this postseason. The Cavs clamped down on Pacers star Paul George (38.6 percent shooting) in their first series, then wrapped up DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors

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