The Cleveland Cavaliers got thumped by the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series on Sunday in a lopsided 108-83 final. There are plenty of things you can point to as the reason why Boston won and Cleveland lost in Game 1.
There was the Cavs’ dismal shooting from the perimeter, shooting 15.4 percent from three-point range. There was the fact that Boston closed off the paint to force Cleveland to continue hoisting jump shots, whether contested or open, which they could not consistently hit. There was the great ball movement of Boston on the offensive end that sent a bad Cavs defense scrambling and led to plenty of open looks and driving lanes to the rim.
You can’t put this win or loss on any one thing, and Cleveland has tons of adjustments to make before Game 2. First and foremost, they need LeBron James to look engaged and attack, something he didn’t do in Game 1 as he was 5-of-16 from the field and seemed more than content to settle for jump shots that weren’t falling. The Cavs need to figure something out on the defensive end and that likely means a rotation change and the insertion of Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup to disrupt Al Horford inside.
There is not one magical fix for Cleveland, but there is one lineup that should never, ever see the floor again, despite Tyronn Lue’s insistence on playing it throughout this postseason. The three-man lineup of Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Jeff Green is an absolute disaster in every way imaginable, combining for an impressively bad -19.2 net rating (100.1 ORtg, 119.3 DRtg) in an astonishing 110 minutes together in the playoffs. They have appeared in 11 games together, which means Lue is allowing this trio to run wild on the court and actively hurt the Cavs for 10 minutes per game.