What happened instead was a revival, one that stands as a reminder, no matter how the rest of this series plays out, that this may not be the most talented Celtics team we've ever seen, but it's on the short list of the boldest and most resilient.
Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) tries to move the ball in front of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during first half of Game 2 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Friday, May 19, 2017, in Bos. After all, the Ducks snapped the Predators' 10-game home playoff winning streak in Game 4 Thursday night with a 3-2 overtime decision.
It would require less time and space to list the Celtics who didn't contribute significantly to the victory rather than all of those who did.
Start with Marcus Smart.
Even more impressive, he did it on the road and without the Celtics' leader, Isaiah Thomas, who has been sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs with an injury.
Bradley finished with 20 points, while teammate Marcus Smart added 27 on 8 of 14 shooting overall.
Smart also dished out 7 assists, grabbed 5 rebounds, turned the ball over just twice, played his usual rabid defense, and never backed down when challenged, physically or verbally. He can be an enigma, but he is a winning player.
Cavaliers: James needs 62 points to pass Michael Jordan as the top scorer in postseason history. "Nobody really believed in us..." There was Al Horford, who had a rough shooting night (7 of 18) but was the fulcrum of the offense on a couple of pivotal late possessions.
"I thought he flopped", Jerebko said. Stevens didn't review much of the Game 2 tape, but there's a mental image in his head of the Cavs making tough shot after tough shot. Additional measures of James' inept performance were his hitting only 2-of-6 jumpers and scoring a mere seven points in 11 iso situations.
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So what did he give the Celtics Sunday when called upon? Credit the Celtics there, they kept working hard and in the face adversity played with even more energy, while the Cavaliers coasted. This doesn't happen on an isolation play to end the game.
"You obviously hear people saying that it's all about how you respond, and we don't feel like people believed in us and counted us out", Bradley said. I'm presuming it was sometime before the second bounce of Bradley's victor, but when? He was held scoreless in the fourth quarter and was limited to three points in the second half.
It would have been easy to become demoralized.
"We got a slice of some humble pie".
LeBron James had one of the worst games of his postseason career, finishing with 11 points and six turnovers.
He had scored at least 30 points in eight consecutive playoff games, the first player to do that since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970, and there didn't seem to be anything the Celtics could do to stop him.
Remarkably, the lead would be theirs at the final buzzer, thanks to Bradley's touch and a cooperative rim.
The Heat went on to lose that series and a more determined, focused LeBron responded by leading Miami to back-to-back National Basketball Association titles.