Boston played the second half without Isaiah Thomas, who sustained a strained right hip. But the game was already out of reach.
Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said that Thomas had a nagging injury that he aggravated a week ago during the second-round series against the Washington Wizards.
“He was pretty despondent not to be able to play,” Stevens said. “That guy’s a tough guy, and he plays through a lot. For him to have to sit was pretty hard.”
With both teams going to their benches early in the fourth quarter, the only suspense was whether the Celtics would avoid the worst playoff loss in team history. The Orlando Magic beat them by 47 points in the first round of the 1995 playoffs.
Still, it was Boston’s worst home playoff loss ever.
Thomas finished with two free throws, missed all six shots from the field, and recorded six assists. The rookie Jaylen Brown scored 19 points for the Celtics, Avery Bradley finished with 13, and Al Horford had 11 points and 5 rebounds.
The game tipped off about 15 minutes after the three finalists for N.B.A. most valuable player were announced, and James was not among them. It will be the first time since 2008 that he will not finish in the top three.
Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs are the three players in the running for the league’s top individual honor.
“You’ve got to give the award to different people every now and then,” Lue said. “But to me, LeBron’s the M.V.P.”
Referring to James, Lue added that, just like Shaquille O’Neal, “You can give him the M.V.P. every season, if you want to.”
James, who has won the award four times, still has a chance for a fourth N.B.A. title — and his second in a row.
James scored 22 points in the first half, when he also had 6 assists and had 3 blocked shots,…