Cleveland went into Boston and made a statement without Tristan Thompson.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a statement Wednesday night in game that LeBron James downplayed less than 24 hours before.
In beating the Boston Celtics 114-91, the Cavs not only took control of the East’s No. 1 seed - they now have a one game lead over Boston and the tiebreaker due to wining the season series 3-1 - but reminded everyone that they are the class of the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs’ win also came on the second half of a back-to-back, whereas the Celtics had been off since drubbing the Knicks on Sunday. Cleveland entered the game 1-9 on the second half of back-to-backs this season.
The Cavs took control of the game in the second quarter after both teams struggled to score in the first. In the second, Cleveland outscored Boston 22-4 in the opening minutes before Celtics coach Brad Stevens called a timeout in an effort to stop the bleeding. Isaiah Thomas was on the bench the entire time.
When Thomas checked back in with 5:56 to go, Boston went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead back to 10. But the Cavs pushed the lead back up to 15 at the half. James scored 15 of his game-high 36 points in the quarter.
The Cavs continued to cruise in the third. With 5:53 left in the third, a J.R. Smith three pushed Cleveland’s lead to over 20 for the first time. When Kyle Korver hit a three with 1:30 to go, Cleveland’s lead jumped to game-high 29.
The fourth was much of the same and Boston ultimately threw in the towel and subbed out their rotation players with 4:43 to go. As if to put a stamp on the Cavs’ win, coach Tyronn Lue left LeBron and the other Cavs starters in until the 4:04 mark before pulling them out for good.
James added 10 rebounds and 6 assists to his point total. Kevin Love added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Kyrie Irving added 19 points and all five Cavs starters finished in double figures. Thomas, who scored 12 points points in the opening quarter, lead the Celtics with 26 points.
Even with Tristan Thompson out due to sprained thumb, the Cavs out-rebounded the Celtics 51-38. As a team, the Celtics shot 40.7 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from three.
The Cavs next play Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. in Cleveland.