IN an early clash of top East contenders, Cleveland proved too strong against an undermanned Boston team as the Cavs ‘Big Three’ of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 79 points in their 128-122 win at the Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
Irving and Love led the charge early with 15 and 12 first half points, respectively, to take a 68-51 lead at the break. James waxed hot in the third with 20 points in the period, before the Celtics tried to mount a comeback in the fourth.
Boston trimmed a 17-point deficit to five, 102-107, at the 6:18 mark, and even kept fighting to stay within reach, 116-123, with 0:59 to go after an Isaiah Thomas triple. But Love sank a three-point dagger on the next play and the Cavs reserves preserved the win.
James had 30 points and 12 assists to lead the Cavs to a 5-0 start, their best since the 1976-77 season. Love added 26 markers, including four triples, and Irving contributed 23. Tristan Thompson chipped in a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Thomas dropped 30 for the Celtics, who didn’t have Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk. Avery Bradley added 26 markers while Jaylen Brown started in place of Crowder and had 19 points.