P=M*V. Momentum is an easy concept in physics. The more mass or velocity a moving object has, the more momentum it has. But in sports, it’s not so simple. The Pelicans seemed to seize it with a 19 point win over the Warriors, just to lose the next two. The Pacers apparently had a lot after beating the Cavs by 34, but they lost game seven. But perhaps in one small play the Celtics have finally taken hold of the eastern conference. Perhaps they’ve even wrestled it away from LeBron for good, with his free agency looming and the Cavs looking their least impressive since 2014.
James was at his best Tuesday evening with a 42 point triple-double. But no one’s ever had a perfect game, and one of his few mistakes proved pivotal. With 23 seconds left in the first half, Marcus Morris cut the Cavs’ lead to 55-46 with a bank shot. LeBron then lazily threw the ball in, and was forced to hustle back defensively after Marcus Smart stole the pass. Morris then slammed the ball home to get the Garden crowd back to its usual raucous state. The emboldened Celtics outscored Cleveland 36-22 in the third to seize a 2-0 series lead.
While Celtic fans may already be fantasizing about another parade, they shouldn’t get too excited. The next two games are at the Q in Cleveland, and even-keeled James is on record stating he’ll be more than ready. “I’m not going to lose sleep over it…I’ll recalibrate in terms of how I can help this team be successful, how I can do some things to make us be even more complete”. If the Cavs win the next two (and Boston is just 1-4 on the road this postseason), it will be the Celtics who’ll be losing sleep. The Celtics struck the first blow in the battle of eastern heavyweights. But the game’s best player is poised to launch another stampede towards the finals pasture Saturday.