BOSTON - Just over 30 seconds remained in quite literally the most dominant first-half postseason performance in NBA history, and Isaiah Thomas still gingerly walked the ball up the floor. Each dribble bounced with an overwhelming sense of defeat. Forget sense of urgency, Boston lacked any noteworthy sense of a pulse. The Cavaliers' 39-point lead had long since surpassed the Celtics' total points scored, yet the East's No. 1 seed failed to even initiate any action in their final possession of the opening half.
Thomas pounded the shot clock down to eight seconds before waving off a Kelly Olynyk screen. The miscommunication merely fed the beast of Cleveland's blitzing defense. Kevin Love shuffled his feet to close off any semblance of a lane for penetration. Tristan Thompson shifted over from the weakside to tag Olynyk's roll. Thomas could only toss the ball over to Avery Bradley on the left wing as nothing but a safety valve, J.R. Smith's closeout arriving perfectly. When Bradley returned the ball to Thomas, Kyrie Irving stood, prepared. He nearly bit on Thomas' theatric shot fake, but recovered and rendered the Celtics' recently-minted All-NBA point guard into nothing but a praying man just inside the three-point line.
The possession sucked whatever energy that remained out of TD Garden. Smith promptly awoke the dreary crowd with a ridiculous, turning fallaway jumper at the buzzer to give Cleveland an NBA-record 41-point halftime lead. The Cavs cruised to a 130-86 victory and a 2-0 series lead as Thomas ultimately did not return for second half action due to a right hip strain.
Cleveland's offense, and LeBron James in particular, torched Boston, but the Cavs' defensive blitz kindled the inferno. Hip strain aside, Thomas has been completely engulfed. Cleveland doesn't even bat an eyelash at the Celtics' shooters. Al Horford just rolls into the oblivion of Cleveland's rotation and Olynyk pops into a distant territory ...