Cavs rout Celtics to take lead in series

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Associated Press Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives for a layup in front of Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during Wednesday night's game.

BOSTON (AP) - So much for the Cavaliers being rusty.

LeBron James embarrassed every defender Boston threw at him and Cleveland picked up where it left off following a long layoff, rolling to a 117-104 victory Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

James had 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Kevin Love added a playoff career-high 32 points and had 12 rebounds to help the Cavaliers improve to 9-0 in the first three rounds of the playoffs. They opened 10-0 last season en route to their first NBA title.

"It was our two bigs that set the tone - Kev and Double-T (Tristan Thompson), they were phenomenal," James said. "I saw it in Kev this morning. I knew what type of game he was going to have. So he came through for us."

But there's no denying it has started with James, who has scored at least 35 points in five straight games.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said James' efficiency continues to make things easier for everyone on both ends.

"He's playing at a high level. And that's the reason why we're riding him so much," Lue said. "When LeBron's playing at that level other guys just have to be solid and we have a good chance to win."

Game 2 is Friday night in Boston.

Coming off a 10-day break, James and Cavaliers raced to an early lead were never threatened.

"You can't dig yourself in a big hole like that against them," Boston coach Brad Stevens said.

James scored at will in the first half and the Cavs built a 26-point lead. Love opened up the floor for James, burying outside jumpers and forcing Boston to leave defenders one-on-one with James.

Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder led the Celtics with 21 points each. Isaiah Thomas had 17 points. Coming off a Game 7 victory over Washington on Monday night, Boston missed 11 of its first 14 shots.

"They were the better team tonight. The hit us first. They were more physical," Thomas said. "We can't let that happen again."

Love averaged a quiet 13.8 points in the first two rounds, then broke out against a Boston team that knocked him out of the 2015 playoffs when he became tangled with Kelly Olynyk and dislocated his shoulder.

The shoulder was working just fine Wednesday, and he scored in the paint and from the outside.

"We wanted to come in and set the tone and dictate the game. We felt like we did a good job doing that," Love said. "It wasn't just me. Everybody was moving the ball, passing the ball well."

Things got a little testy in the third quarter when Boston's Marcus Smart and Cleveland's Thompson got nose-to-nose and had to be separated by referees. Some jawing continued briefly before James stepped in to pull Thompson away.

Smart and Thompson were called for a double foul on the play.

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