Notes, quotes and observations after the Cavaliers blew an 11-point second quarter lead and fell 107-94 to the Boston Celtics Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden. The Celtics lead 2-0 going into Game 3 Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

1. The Cavs have taken a step backwards. All the issues in a seven-game first-round series against the Pacers were seemingly fixed in a sweep of the Raptors.

2. At least that’s what we thought.

3. In the semifinals, the Cavs had balanced scoring, with five players in double figures in all four games. That was a vast improvement over the Pacers series, when they repeatedly had three.

4. The Cavs outscored the Raptors 123-91 in the third quarter, avoiding the collapses in that period that have plagued them all season.

5. Their defense seemingly improved, especially when they had point guard George Hill back after missing 31/2 games against Indiana with back spasms.

6. Against the Celtics, they have slipped back into their old, ugly habits.

7. On Tuesday, they had three players in double figures. LeBron James posted a 40-point triple-double (the third of his career in the playoffs), Kevin Love turned in 22 points and 15 rebounds and Kyle Korver added 11 points, all in the second quarter.

8. J.R. Smith (0 for 7 from the field) went scoreless for the third time in 13 playoff games. Hill has totaled eight points and one assist in two games. Jeff Green scored six points for the second consecutive game; he hasn’t reached double figures since Game 3 against the Raptors. Rodney Hood scored two points in nearly 111/2 minutes, yet Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he’s sticking with him. Jordan Clarkson lost his spot in the rotation and did not play, while Larry Nance Jr. got significant minutes.

9. All of that and the Cavs ended up with the eighth pick in the NBA Lottery, the same spot where they started. In a span of seconds, the coveted Brooklyn pick became nothing that would convince James to remain in Cleveland as a free agent. It also made the failure to pry away a young player in the trade with the Celtics for Kyrie Irving even more glaring. The curtained area for the Cavs' front office was stocked for a celebration, with a bottle of Don Julio tequila and Moet champagne on the table.

10. But first, a nugget on the health of James, who left the game with 3:48 remaining in the second quarter when Jayson Tatum’s shoulder hit him squarely in the jaw.

11. “I felt I needed to go back to the locker room and kind of recalibrate,” James said. “It was a tough blow. Obviously incidental. Just wanted to go back to the back and make sure everything was fine.”

12. James returned with 1:57 left before halftime, seemingly a quick break.
Asked if he was checked for a concussion, James said, “I was checked for multiple things and I passed them all.”

13. Lue called the play, “a tough collision, knocked his head sideways.”

14. James said it didn’t affect his game after that and statistically that checks out as well. From that point on, James scored 18 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. He hit 7 of 14 field goals., 1 of 4 3s and 3 of 4 free throws after making 9 of 15, 4 of 7 and 2 of 6, respectively before he was hurt.

15. But Lue didn’t think James was the same when he came back.

16. “I don’t think he had the same punch that he had before he left as far as attacking the basket, playing with that force and power we talked about at shootaround,” Lue said. “We’ll see how he feels.”

17. As the Cavs return home, Smith will also be in the spotlight. With 3:49 remaining, Al Horford went up for an alley oop pass and was shoved by Smith while in the air. Marcus Smart got into it with Smith, with both called for technical fouls and Smith for a flagrant on Horford.

18. “It was a good call. I blatantly pushed him,” Smith said. “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.”

19. Smart was still upset afterward and had choice words for Smith.

20. “I just looked at it, 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,” Smart said. “You just can't allow that to keep happening. That's not the first time J.R. has done some dirty stuff, especially playing against us. He's known for it, especially playing against us. We know that.

21. “So you know, it's like a bully, you keep letting a bully keep picking on you, he's going to pick on you until you finally stand up, and that's what I tried to do. One of my guys was down, and I took offense to it.”

22. Smith was suspended two games for an incident against the Celtics in the first round of the 2015 playoffs when he delivered a backhanded punch to Jae Crowder, who sprained his left ACL as he fell. Smith served the suspension in the semifinals against the Bulls. Smart was a Celtics rookie, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, when that happened.

23. Celtics fans responded as expected, chanting, “F--- you J.R.”

24. Surprisingly, Smith wasn’t offended.

25. “I love it. I don’t want the opposing fans to like me. That’s not why I’m here,” Smith said. “They can chant and scream all they want, it actually makes me feel better about myself. They know me.”

26. It wasn’t a good night for Smith all around.

27. “Of course he didn’t shoot the basketball well, but it was hard to get in a rhythm if you’re not getting consistent touches,” Lue said of Smith. “Not too much worried about his shot. We know he can make shots, but just communication defensive-wise.”

28. Tristan Thompson was more vigorous in his criticism of the defense than Lue.

29. “I thought defensively we were horrible. We were terrible defensively. We were shit defensively,” Thompson said, perfectly applying the Rule of Three writing technique used for emphasis to basketball. “Of course LeBron is going to put up those numbers, but if we don’t get stops on the defensive end, they’re going to make open 3s and they’re going to have rhythm and their guys are going to feel good. If you don’t play no defense, especially in the conference finals, you’re not going to win a ball game.”

30. Thompson said the Cavs know what they need to do.

31. “We reviewed it so many damn times,” he said. “I think it’s just the communication, so guys know, ‘Hey, if the guy’s under control, don’t have to over help.’ Or ‘If I’m going to trap the box, you gotta have my X.’ Or if we’re inverting, we’ve got to communicate. And don’t point switch.”

32. Smith wouldn’t agree with the suggestion that it’s hard to defend when you can’t make a shot.

33. “I wouldn’t say that. The hardest part is when you can’t score and they keep scoring. That’s the things that drive you crazy,” he said. “We’ve all been professionals for a long time. You’re not going to make (shots) every night. In order to be successful in the playoffs, when you’re not making you’ve got to make sure they’re not making. We’ve got to turn it into a defensive battle and we didn’t do that.”

34. Besides the struggles on defense, Kyle Korver thought the Cavs’ energy was lacking. They started to lose it when they had a 47-36 lead with 3:50 left before the half and allowed the Celtics to cut the gap to seven at the break.

35. “We need more energy. I thought it was on both sides of the ball, starting in the third quarter,” Korver said. “The first half we played pretty well. Then again, we didn’t finish off the half the way I think we wanted to. But our energy just wasn’t there in the second half. And that affects how you shoot the ball. That affects the shots you get. That affects everything. And we just didn’t have good energy.

36. “We played how we needed to play in the first half, besides the ending. That’s a good model for how we need to play and the physicality we need to play with and how hard we have to play, the energy we have to play with. It just wasn’t there in the second half for us. We need to look at the first half and say, ‘This is how we need to play,’ and look at the second half and say, ‘This is how we need to not play.’”

37. James also pointed to the third quarter.

38. “We gave ourselves a pretty good chance with 36 minutes, but that 12 minutes in the third quarter, that killed us,” James said.

39. The game was rugged from the start and Lue wasn’t happy with the Cavs’ level of physicality.

40. “We’ve got to be tougher,” Lue said. “I think they’re playing tougher than we are. We see that. They’re being physical. They’re gooning the game up and we’ve got to do the same thing. We’ve got to be tougher, mentally and physically.”

41. At the start of the second quarter, Nance and Aron Baynes wrestled and rolled on the court for a seeming eternity fighting for a rebound.

42. “It’s just part of basketball. We both wanted the ball pretty bad, so that’s what you get when that happens,” Nance said. “It was definitely a physical game, two physical guys going at it. We just need to bring more of that next game.”

43. While Smith and James didn’t agree the Cavs were lacking in that regard, Thompson did.

44. “They’re going to play physical. They got to. That gets them going, and they’ve got players that are gritty players that play hard,” Thompson said. “That’s their edge, that’s what they bring to the table. Guys got to be ready for that. And if you’re not ready then you can’t play.”

45. Smart is the Celtics’ embodiment of that attitude.

46. “That’s me, that’s how I was raised,” Smart said. “I’m the youngest of four boys, my whole life I had to fight. I had to get down and do things in order to secure my spot in the household.

47. “So coming to the court is nothing different. We’re the underdogs. Coming in, Cleveland is picked to beat us. We’ve got to come and give energy, extraordinary energy all the time and I just try to be that spark plug.”

48. In Celtics history, they are 37-0 in best-of-seven series when they’ve taken a 2-0 lead. James is 2-4 in series when his team falls behind 0-2, all of those while in Cleveland. The biggest positive for the Cavs is that the Celtics are 1-4 on the road in the playoffs.

49. “The reality is they did what they were supposed to do, they took care of home court,” Lue said. “We have to win one game here. That’s our mindset.

50. “Going back home we know we’ll play better. They’ve showed they haven’t played that well on the road. … We’ve got to come out swinging. We’ve got to be aggressive. We’ve got to be physical and we’ve got to have a physical mindset, that they’re coming in, playing tough. They’re aggressive, and we’ve got to match that.”