Celtics dominate short-handed Cavaliers in Game 1 win
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown looks to pass under the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 1. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics dominate short-handed Cavaliers in blowout Game 1 win

When Donovan Mitchell hit a running three to give Cleveland its first lead in the first quarter, it looked like the Cavaliers would be a match for the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Game 1. They would not.

That early lead would also be the Cavaliers' last lead in a 120-95 loss to the Celtics in the opening game of their first-round series. Boston rode a 32-point performance by Jaylen Brown and three quarters of strong defense to easily defeat the Cavaliers, who got dominated on the boards and from three-point range.

Brown scored the first points of the game and never looked back, finishing 12-of-18 from the floor, and 4-of-6 from deep. Derrick White added 25 points and seven three-pointers of his own, as Boston shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 39.1 percent from deep.

The Celtics also got big contributions from their bench, where Payton Pritchard hit four threes and Luke Kornet collected 10 rebounds. By contrast, Cleveland got one three-pointer from its entire bench, which shot 5-of-19 overall.

The Cavaliers didn't have Jarrett Allen for the fourth straight playoff game, part of why they got outrebounded, 55-38. They did get 33 points from Mitchell, 17 points and 13 rebounds from Evan Mobley and three threes from Isaac Okoro, but the Cavaliers didn't have the offensive firepower or the interior size to stop the Celtics.

Simply put, a team that has to play Tristan Thompson for 16 minutes of a playoff game is outmanned against an offensive juggernaut like the Celtics. It didn't help that Caris Levert played 26 minutes and managed only four points.

Can Cleveland turn things around? Perhaps if Allen can come back, the Cavaliers can slow down the Celtics offense better, move Okoro or Max Strus to the bench and rely less on their other punchless reserves. Until then, Mitchell's shot may have given them the last lead they'll see in a while. 

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