James kept the Cavaliers ahead for most of three quarters, but when he ran out of gas, the Celtics promptly capitalized for a 2-0 series lead. Even a quietly stellar 22-point, 15-rebound effort from Kevin Love couldn't prevent the 13-point loss.
Game 2 highlighted the need for more perimeter help, as Cleveland's starting backcourt were outscored 51-3 by their counterparts. The foursome of George Hill, J.R. Smith, Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood have produced next to nothing, and need to give James more help if there is any hope of swinging the series.
Even Kyrie Irving struggled to collect assists in a LeBron-centric offense, but it's simply unacceptable that Hill and Clarkson have combined for just one in two games.
Hill's passive habit is creeping up at the wrong time, as the Cavaliers need him to be a steady third option around Love and James. He isn't making any effort to attack the rim, which explains the lack of assists, and he has just eight points in the series. The more concerning stat is that Hill has only attempted four threes in 62 minutes, which isn't nearly enough for the Celtics to respect him as a serious scoring threat.
Clarkson has the opposite problem - he's too aggressive for someone with his limited skill set. He threw up 11 shots in 15 minutes in Game 1, and was promptly benched altogether in Game 2. Clarkson's intentions are good, as he's often asked to initiate offense in the scant minutes when James sits, but he's prone to tunnel vision and can't resist trying contested layups.
Short of scoring or playmaking, the Cavaliers point guards could also help by doing the little things, like bringing the ball up the floor. James shouldn't be wasting his energy collecting the inbound pass, and Cleveland's lethargic offense would greatly benefit from their point guards pushing the tempo.
Cleveland's shooting guards have been completely neutralized, as Smith and Hood are averaging a combined eight points per game.
After shooting 77 percent on threes against the Toronto Raptors, Smith has been completely abysmal against Boston. He has more flagrant fouls (1) than 3-pointers (0), he went completely scoreless in Game 2 after scoring just four points in Game 1, and hasn't attempted a single free throw.
"We have to ramp it up," Smith admitted to reporters on Thursday. "We're playing too slow. We're making (James) play hero ball, which is tough to do, especially in the Eastern Conference finals. We've got to help."
Hood hasn't been much better as the backup. He came alive in Game 1 with 11 points (mostly in garbage time), but his inconsistencies were on full display in Game 2 after scoring just two points. He continues to look uncomfortable with his place in the offense, as it's readily apparent that his aversion to physicality is incompatible with playoff basketball.
Smith is a famously streaky player, so he could easily bounce back later in the series, but the same cannot be said for Hood. He's a minus-82 in 200 playoff minutes, which is by far the worst mark of any rotation player on the Cavaliers.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)