BOSTON – LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals by demolishing the Boston Celtics 130-86.
The defending champions went up 32-18 Friday night after one quarter of Game 2 at the TD Garden in Boston and had extended that advantage by the intermission to 72-31, a 41-point lead that was the largest halftime deficit in the history of the NBA Playoffs.
James racked up 30 points and seven assists in 33 minutes of action for the second-seeded Cavaliers, while fellow stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love added 23 points and 21 points apiece.
Reserve guard Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 19 points on a night to forget for the Celtics, who played most of the game without star point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas left the game with a hip injury after scoring just two points.
The top-seeded Celtics, who had the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season but have been dominated in two games on their home floor in this series, shot just 37 percent from the field overall and only 30 percent (8-of-27) from 3-point range.
Although Thomas’ injury hurt the Celtics’ offense, the absence of the diminutive point guard made little difference defensively against an opponent that shot 56 percent from the field overall and nearly 50 percent (19-of-39) from 3-point range.
James went 4-of-6 from 3-point range on Friday night and is shooting a better-than-average 45 percent from behind the arc during the playoffs, a scary proposition for the Cavaliers’ opponents.
Also frightening is his insistence that Cleveland can get even better.
“I believe we’ve got another level, as well,” James said. “As well as we played tonight, we’ve got a couple of things we can do better. There’s no complacency for us now. But we like where we’re headed.”
The Cavaliers’ dismantling of the Celtics surely also got the attention of the Golden State Warriors, who lead the San Antonio Spurs two games to none in the Western Conference finals.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals will be played Sunday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.