Halftime stars, studs and duds: Big second-quarter run has Cavs in control

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BOSTON –  Brad Stevens warned anyone who would listen that regardless of what the numbers say, playing Boston seems to always bring out the best in Cleveland defensively.
 
That was certainly the case on Wednesday, as the Cavs pulled away in the second quarter and take a comfortable 57-42 lead into the half.
 
Boston found itself getting off to a rough start to both the first and second quarters, resulting in quick timeouts by Stevens.
 
Boston responded well in the first quarter, but not so much in the second quarter which began with a 9-2 run by the Cavs.
 
It wasn’t the fact that Cleveland was getting warm offensively, but the points came with such ease around the rim in the form of dunks or lay-ups.
 
And that soon opened things up on the perimeter for Cleveland as they went on an 18-4 run to start the second quarter which was capped off by a 3-pointer by Kyle Korver which put Cleveland ahead 37-24 with 7:30 to play in the half.
 
Cleveland’s dominance came with Isaiah Thomas on the bench.
 
Upon his return, the Celtics were down by 17 points (41-24).
 
And while Boston relies heavily on his scoring, his presence on the floor opens things up for his teammates.
 
Trailing 41-24, Boston scored seven straight to make it a 41-31 game.
 
But Cleveland, as they did at the start of the second quarter, soon pushed their lead into a more comfortable zone courtesy of strong play by LeBron James and Kevin Love controlling the boards.
 
And that was key for the Cavs who were playing without Tristan Thompson.
 
Here are the stars, studs and duds from the first half of Wednesday night’s game between Boston and Cleveland.
 
STARS
 
LeBron James: He has been carrying the Cavs for most of this season, so why should tonight be any different, right? At the half, he has 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
 
Isaiah Thomas: He played the entire first quarter and the Celtics were up by one point. He sat the first six or so minutes of the second quarter, they’re down 17. Yes, Thomas’ presence matters. He led the Celtics with 17 points in the first half, 12 of which came in the first quarter.
 
STUDS
 
Kevin Love: He is still a human turnstile when it comes to defense, but he was a major force on the boards as a scorer and rebounder. At the half, he had eight points and 11 rebounds.
 
Al Horford: The Celtics made a more conscious effort to get him the ball on the block and for the most part, Horford did a nice job. He had 12 points at the half along with five rebounds and two assists.
 
Kyrie Irving: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but he did enough to keep the Celtics honest. At the half, he had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting.
 
DUDS
 
Avery Bradley: He did a nice job of rebounding the ball (six), but they really need him to knock down some shots tonight – something he didn’t do a good job of in the first half. Bradley missed four of his five shot attempts and has three points on the game. Even more telling is the fact that his plus/minus for the half was -17.
 

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