Posted by John Schuhmann
CLEVELAND – The story of Game 1 on Saturday night was the Cavs’ comeback from an 11-point, third-quarter deficit to avoid losing home-court advantage.
But such a comeback should not have come as a surprise. The second half has been a problem for the Celtics all season, especially against Cleveland. Through Saturday, over the course of 88 games, the Celtics have won the first half by an average of 4.4 points, and have lost the second half by an average of 0.7.
The discrepancy is worse against the Cavs… much worse.
In their five meetings this season, Boston has outscored Cleveland by an average of 6.8 points in the first half. But the Cavs have won the second half by an average of 12.6.
The scores of the five second halves these teams have played this season (CLE-BOS): 44-44, 60-32, 50-45, 64-53, 58-39.
On Sunday, when asked about his team’s second half struggles of the previous night, Doc Rivers pointed to the offense.
“We bailed out on a lot of shots, quick shots, didn’t make a lot of next passes and didn’t attack,” he said. “They had guys flying at us in the air, and we were still trying to shoot jump shots instead of putting the ball back on the floor. That’s not even an adjustment [to be made for Game 2]. That’s what we should do anyway.”
The Celtics scored on just 19 of their 43 second-half possessions on Saturday. And over the course of the five games against the Cavs this season, their offense has been the bigger problem in the second half. They’ve scored just 89.0 points per 100 possessions after halftime, as opposed to 116.4 per 100 possessions before.
Paul Pierce shot 1-for-10 in the second half in Game 1 and is shooting 34 percent (10-for-29) in the second half in five games against the Cavs this season.
Rajon Rondo took just two shots in the second half on Saturday, but is shooting 33 percent (9-for-27) after halftime against the Cavs in the five games.
Kevin Garnett: 31 percent (10-for-32). Rasheed Wallace: 17 percent (3-for-18). Glen Davis: 33 percent (3-for-9).
Ray Allen is 11-for-22 from 3-point range, but just 5-for-14 from inside the arc. 44 percent overall.
Of the top eight guys in Rivers’ rotation, only Tony Allen (7-for-11) and Kendrick Perkins (7-for-13) have shot well in the second half. But of course, they haven’t taken enough shots to make much of an impact.
And when you have such an huge drop-off overall, the defense is obviously suffering as well. The Celtics have allowed the Cavs to score 101.1 points per 100 possessions in the first half and 119.3 in the second.
LeBron James has averaged 23.2 points against the Celtics this season … after halftime.
John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Follow him on twitter.