3. Defense finds premier form
Aside from the wealth of new contributors, the Cavaliers appeared to be playing a new brand of basketball right from the outset. Cedi Osman drew one-on-one coverage with Irving on a multitude of occasions, using his lateral movement to fend off a layup and mid-range jumper in the first quarter. Tristan Thompson jumped to his peak elevation, preventing Jayson Tatum from finishing a dunk. A rejuvenated J.R. Smith posterized Aron Baynes on offense before emphatically blocking a three-point attempt by Semi Ojeleye.
Those were just the plays from the first 10 minutes of the one-sided affair.
Cleveland furthered its momentum throughout each quarter, limiting the Celtics to 20 points in the second, 22 points in the third and 25 points in the fourth. There were nine ties and 13 lead changes, none of which came in the second half.
The Cavs led by as many as 29 points, a convincing statement that they are still capable of returning to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season.
John Alfes has covered Cleveland sports since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.
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