The Boston Celtics are up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals thanks to “gooning the game up,” according to Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.
“They’re playing tougher than we are,’ Lue said of the physicality in the series. “We see that. They’re being physical, they’re gooning the game up and we gotta do the same thing.”
Lue made the comments after Tuesday night’s Game 2, a 107-94 Celtics win.
The Celtics didn’t seem to mind Lue’s assessment.
Boston forward Marcus Morris, who has frequently drawn the assignment of guarding LeBron James, somewhat agreed.
“Gooning? That’s a good word,” Morris said. “(Expletive) we’re doing what it takes. Whatever it takes, every player, 1 to 15, whatever it takes, that’s what we’re doing. You call it what you want to call it. We’re just trying to get the win.”
“I don’t even know what to say to that,” said Jaylen Brown of Lue’s comment. “I agree, I guess.”
Oddly enough, it’s Cleveland guard JR Smith who drew criticism for borderline dirty play.
Tensions boiled over when Smith shoved Boston forward Al Horford on a drive to the basket. Smart and Smith exchanged shoves and had to be separated, with each player being whistled for a technical foul.
Smith received a flagrant-1 for the play and admitted afterward it was justified, but maintained it wasn’t meant to hurt Horford.
“It was a good call,” he said. “I blatantly pushed him. It wasn’t like I was trying to low-bridge him or something to make sure he didn’t get it. It was a good, hard foul. I can understand why they gave me a flagrant.”
Boston’s Marcus Smart saw it differently.
“Al is a defenseless person. He’s in the air. He can’t control how his body goes, and he’s not even looking. And you go and take two hands to the back; that’s a dirty shot. You just can’t allow that to keep happening,” said Smart.
Game 3 is Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. in Cleveland and Lue says the Cavaliers need to be ready to get physical.
“We’ve got to come out swinging,” Lue said. “We’ve got to be aggressive. I think we’ve got to be physical, and we’ve got to have a physical mindset, you know, that they’re coming in, playing tough. They’re aggressive, and we’ve got to match that.”
—Field Level Media