I often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters
and bloggers are saying about the Celtics after playing the Celtics.
Here's a dose of 'enemy chatter' from Cleveland.
Brown basically toned down the team's basic defensive strategy, which
is to shrink the floor and give help defense in the paint. The plan
instead was to stick to the Celtics shooters and let Rondo try to score
his way to a win and not pass his way there. As a result, Rondo had the
ball in his hands a lot with not a lot of passing options.
He got his 18 points but took 17 shots and was "limited" to eight
assists. That's 17 times when he didn't pass to a player who was
probably much better at scoring than him.
Brown supplemented that by having Anthony Parker pick Rondo up full
court at times to throw the Celtics off rhythm and also take some time
off the shot clock. This seemed like a questionable move with Rondo's
speed. But after a basket when the Cavs had time to set up defensively
at the other end, it actually worked.
The Celtics certainly obliged by half-assing their way through the offense. It's almost as if some of the guys said "well, if Rondo's gonna do it all… then we'll let him do it all."
A lot of times in the regular season, the rest of the Cavs would take
their foot off the gas pedal when LeBron had a huge scoring start,
particularly if he was doing it from outside. On Friday night, the Cavs
matched LeBron’s intensity on both ends of the floor. Shaq looked for
deep position early and got some points inside. Antawn Jamison made a
runner or two, but most of his points came from going right to the front
of the rim and accepting contact.
On defense, the Cavs played Anthony Parker well off of Rajon Rondo,
packed the paint, and made Boston work for all of their baskets. Boston
couldn’t hit a shot from outside, going 4-14 from outside the paint in
the first quarter. Between LeBron going off, their shots not falling,
and the whistles not going their way, Boston completely unraveled.
That last line sums it up best, actually.
The Celtics actually turned LeBron into a jump shooter… and he got HOT. What are you gonna do about that? The C's, meanwhile, couldn't hit shit. Toss in some pretty bad officiating and you've got a recipe for disaster. The early whistles killed any momentum the C's were building as they responded to the Cavs attack.
But that doesn't mean its ok for the C's to quit. The officiating evened out after the first quarter. We've seen teams get down big in the first quarter a million times and come back. Quitting is inexcusable.
Unlike Monday night, where Cleveland, though eventually losing by 18,
at least rallied and caused some consternation for the Celtics before
their rally fizzled out, Boston never made a push to get back in the
game, and the Cavs steadily built upon the lead.
With LeBron eschewing his usual rest at the beginning of the second
quarter (good move, Coach, to leave him in with the hot hand), Cleveland
quickly built the lead to twenty, and then continued to make shots
every time Boston put a hoop or two together. Boston, once they fell
behind by 20, never got closer than 16 the rest of the night, and the
Cavaliers ended the first half on a 6-2 run which boosted the lead at
the intermission to twenty-two, at 65-43, and had the Celtics' crowd
Mike Brown with a good in-game decision? I guess this one is an easy one… LeBron was raining down jumpers like mad. Why sit him?
Obviously this series is still far from over. The Cavaliers have
another game in Boston before they get to return home for game five.
They won a game they needed, but now that they have shown how good they
can be, it will be interesting to see which team shows up for game
four. I am left wondering if maybe we should listen to LeBron more
carefully. After game two, he expressed his disappointment, but he also
told Cavaliers fans not to panic. Obviously he knows a lot more than
we do, but sometimes even his words can’t help contain the tsunami of
paranoia and teeth gnashing that goes along with being a Cleveland
sports fan. That’s probably on us more than it is on him, but what else
We're interested in seeing which C's team shows up in Game 4 too. I'm with Chuck. I think the C's take tomorrow's game. I've said for a week now that each team would win one on the other's court and the C's win game 7 in Cleveland. So far, we're on track.