But not by much.
After the Cavaliers set a modern-day NBA playoff record by holding a 41-point halftime lead, the precedents they set when their 130-86 win was complete were of the franchise and niche-stat variety.
The Cavaliers scored the most points, and won by the largest margin in a playoff game, in team history. Meanwhile, the Celtics’ loss by 44 was the franchise’s worst at home in the playoffs. It also matched the fourth-largest road playoff margin in NBA history and was the widest margin of defeat for a No. 1 seed.
The Cavs nearly fell short of the halftime record. JR Smith‘s turnaround baseline jumper from 20 feet at the buzzer put them up 72-31 to give them the biggest lead at a half in the playoffs since the shot-clock era began in 1954-55.
“They’re going to make another adjustment,” James said. “And we have to be ready for that going into Game 3.”
Celtics star Isaiah Thomas did not make a shot in the first half on six attempts, scoring two points in 17 minutes, making it only the second time this season and postseason that he went without a field goal in a half. He was ruled out for the second half because of a hip strain. Thomas could be seen limping late in the first half. Coach Brad Stevens later said Thomas has been dealing with the hip problem since he aggravated a previous injury last week.
James said his focus was on how the Cavaliers performed and he wasn’t aware of Thomas’ issues.
“Guys continue to be ready, guys continue to stay professional,” James said. “And it’s great to be in a locker room like that.”
The Cavs’ halftime edge surpassed the Detroit Pistons‘ 40-point lead over the Washington Bullets during the 1987 playoffs.
It was also only the second time in the shot-clock era, including the regular season, that the Celtics trailed by more than 40 points at halftime. The other time was a 44-point halftime deficit on Nov. 23, 1967, against the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Cavs’ monumental rout came in the wake of several Celtics players attempting to downplay Cleveland’s hot streak entering the game. The Cavs brought a 12-game playoff win streak into Game 2 on Friday, dating to last season.
“We’re not scared of Cleveland,” Thomas said Thursday. “They’re not the Monstars. They’re not on ‘Space Jam.’ Like, they lace up their shoes just like us.”
Just before the game, it was announced that James was not one of the three top vote-getters for the NBA Most Valuable Player award, which hasn’t happened since 2008.
“LeBron’s a good player, but I look at him as just a regular guy to me,” Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown said before the game. “I’ve got to come out and compete just like he has to come out and compete. I’ve got to tie my shoes just like he ties his shoes. There’s bigger threats in my neighborhood than LeBron James, so I have no fear whatsoever of LeBron.”
Information from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.