With LeBron James showing no respect to any defender the Celtics threw at him, the Cleveland Cavaliers made mincemeat out of Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs won 117-104 but the final score doesn’t truly represent how badly Cleveland beat Boston. The Cavs led by 28 at one point, and since they were dominating the Celtics on their home court, there were a couple of testy moments that led to a lot posturing and talking by both teams.
Overall, those heated moments were just the Celtics’ frustrations reaching a boiling point, a natural human reaction when you are losing so badly.
Yet those feelings can linger, which is why Cavs guard J.R. Smith can see the Celtics playing a little dirty in Game 2 on Friday.
“Whenever their back’s up against the wall, they tend to play better, just like we do,” Smith said after Game 1 via Fox Sports Ohio. “We’ve just got to expect that and understand that there might be dirty plays, there might be cheap shots or whatever coming from the other side, because they’re fighting for their lives at this point.”
Smith’s comments likely will bring back memories of Celtics reserve Kelly Olynyk injuring Kevin Love while wrestling for a rebound in the 2015 NBA playoffs. That play led to Love being injured for the remainder of the postseason and likely contributed to the Cavs losing in the Finals.
Now, to be fair to Smith, he is not straight up calling the Celtics dirty. He is, however, heavily suggesting that the Celtics may play dirty. And if that is indeed the case, it sounds like the Cavs will be ready for whatever the Celtics will try to do in Game 2 to get under their skin.