Cleveland’s Cavaliers defeated the Celtics in Boston, Sunday afternoon, and eliminated them from the playoffs, and I was never so angry after a Cavs win. Sadly, the most memorable stories from this game had very little to do with basketball. Kevin Love is in a sling, Jae Crowder allegedly went to the hospital, Kendrick Perkins and J.R. Smith are probably facing suspensions, Isaiah Thomas made a mockery of professional basketball, and Tony Brothers and his incompetent officiating crew let it all happen. Celtics players, Cavs players, both coaching staffs, Tony Brothers and Co., the NBA, and even the announcers let this game and this series devolve into some of the dirtiest and least professional basketball since the “the Malice at the Palace.”
The Cavs swept the Celtics, but it wasn’t a fun game to watch. Olynyk ripped Love’s arm out of the socket, J.R. Smith clocked Jae Crowder, and Shumpert looked a bit woozy after banging his head. Everyone in Cavs Nation is concerned about Kevin Love’s health and whether or not J.R. Smith will be suspended.
LeBron, Kyrie, and Shumpert really took the Cavs home in the 4th quarter, after they had abandoned all semblance of an offense in the 2nd half. The Cavs led by double-digits almost the entire game and seemed to wrap the game up with a few minutes remaining. But the circus would not end, and after Isaiah Thomas illegally grabbed LeBron during an inbounds pass, followed by grabbing Kyrie Irving’s jersey that was reviewed but called “out on the Cavs”. The whole thing was nauseating. Sound off on your least favorite moment of the game.
"Love grabbed Olynik's arm. Olynik tried to pull away." – Mike Tirico pic.twitter.com/7OHc8xNafK
— TenCentBeers (@TenCentBeers) April 26, 2015
Kevin Love: "I thought it was a bush-league play … I have no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose"
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 26, 2015
Game three between the Cavs and Celtics was an all out slug fest. There were tons of bizarre foul calls, lots of hands restricting players’ movements, and even some trash talk. If the Cavs win tonight, they will have a little extra rest before their next game. Their second round matchup is against whomever comes out of the Bucks, Bulls series. The Bucks beat the bulls with zero time left on the clock yesterday to force a game five. Read the rest of this entry »
Mark and I talked about the Cavs successes, all the potential 1st round sweeps, the Warriors’ second gear, the epic Spurs/Clippers series, and more.
A close look at the playoff stats so far and two things stands out about the Cavs/Celtics.
1.) Over the last 20 games of the regular season, the Celtics were the 3rd best team in the league at running guys off the 3 point line. Despite that, the Cavs have made 32 3s in 3 games, which is topped by only Chicago (38) and Golden State (34). It’s worth noting that both of those teams have played more minutes than the Cavs due to overtimes.
2.) Over the last 20 games of the regular season, the Celtics were the 10th best team in the league at preventing offensive rebounds for opponents (or, corralling defensive rebounding opportunities). They’ve not fared well against the Cavs. Led by Tristan Thompson, snatcher of 14 offensive boards, the good guys are second (Golden State) in offensive rebound rate in the playoffs, sporting a .299 mark (about 30% of the Cavs’ missed shots are being secured for 2nd chance opportunities).
The made 3s and the offensive rebounds are what has separated (on paper) the Cavs and the Celtics.
The Cavs earned a tough win. Each quarter had a completely different feeling to it, which had to have been mentally grueling for the Good Guys. The first twelve minutes were all about post touches, while the second quarter was about lots of physical fouls. The third quarter was the 3 and “D” period, and the fourth quarter was all about the King. The Cavs held Boston to 44% shooting from the field and 26% from deep for the night. Kevin Love and LeBron James combined for 54 points and made 7-15 shots from the 3-point land to lead the Cavs. James also had four steals and two blocks. Let’s get to the action. Read the rest of this entry »
LeBron James returns to Boston for playoff ball tonight. It’s his first time there for such an occasion in three years. His last performance at the TD Garden was one for the ages. With the Miami Heat down to Boston 3-2 in 2012, LeBron had to perform on the road to keep the Heat’s championship run alive. He put up 45 points, ripped down 15 rebounds, and handed out five assists with just four turnovers in 45 minutes of action. The Heat won that series and eventually the title.
Will he be able to repeat that performance? The circumstances are certainly different tonight. The Cavs lead the series 2-0 and should come out on top when the series is over. The Cavs have beat the Celtics by 13 points and eight points in the first two games respectively, but they have yet to be totally dominant for 48 straight minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
Four points I’m thinking about the NBA Playoffs and the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Nothing about the Cavs overall performance in their first two playoff games against the Boston Celtics really qualifies as reason for alarm. The Cavs have taken care of business winning Games 1 and 2 by 11 and nine points respectively. Some expected the Cavs to steamroll the Celtics a little more than they have, but these games have shown the Boston squad to be made of just the type of pluck and gumption that makes for a good story this time of year.
A good story, though, does not a winning team make.
This doesn’t mean the Cavs have played fault-free ball since the league’s second season tipped off. In fact, one of the things that has been most troubling about this Cavs team so far is that they seem to need to take a good shot from a more spirited opponent before playing their best ball.
The Celtics, it turns out, are in no short supply of shots.
The Cavs have started both games slowly, giving the Celtics shooters (I mean, if that’s what you want to call Marcus Smart…) space and allowing relatively easy access to the rim, while the Celtics have been draped over LeBron James and Kyrie Irving from jump.
So far, this Cavs team is the rare slow gunslinger who may not get off the first shot, but, in the end, is still able to walk away from the showdown.
Well, Game 2 turned out to be a significantly closer dogfight than many thought it would be (okay maybe I’m just over-reacting to my wildly optimistic prediction of a runaway 20 point win). It’s easy to forget that this Cavs team is still filled with (and coached by) relative playoff rookies, and is defining itself with each passing postseason game. Many of them (sans LeBron and the bench vets) are still learning to walk in the playoffs before they can run. They’re also still learning how to make the jump to hyperspace after a momentum changing run and how to shoot down the last remaining hopes of an inferior opponent instead of letting them hang around and blast away.
After a back and forth battle of skill versus will and muscle versus hustle for most of this game, the Cavs emerged victorious due in large part to the overwhelming firepower and greatness of their two fourth quarter heroes. That’s not to say they didn’t have plenty of help along the way from some key contributors (even the Falcon would have had a real quick trip if old Ben hadn’t knocked out that tractor beam before he
fouled out got cut down). However, the wily gunslinger and the kid who is strong in the force did what was necessary to get the job done in crunch time and maintain home court advantage.
But with the next real test coming in fast with a pivotal Game 3 on the road in the hostile environs of the TD Garden, now is no time to get cocky…
Ready for another one? After an off-day to enjoy the afterglow of their first playoff victory since 2010, the Cavs return poised and ready to try and turn the home court double play tonight at the Q, as they look to take Game 2 against the Celtics.
In game one, Kyrie, Kevin, Tristan and Delly all got to experience their first taste of playoff action, and they did not disappoint. Kyrie’s offensive explosion and awesome handle, KLove’s gritty defense and rebounding, TT’s dynamite energy and garbageman skills, and Delly’s hustle and heady play were all on full display in the Cavs 113-100 victory. Old head, LBJ, orchestrated the action, facilitating for the young fellas and preaching patience on the sidelines.
Yes, it was an impressive win for this group’s playoff debut, however, this is the playoffs, where nothing is given and everything is earned. Consequently, there’s still plenty for the Cavs to clean up as they take the floor for Game 2.
1. Which player with no playoff experience breaks out in the first round?
Ben: Anthony Davis. Too many national media members have slept on the best player of 2014-2015. While it is premature to officially name him “best player alive,” his regular season was historical. He is already in the conversation with LeBron, James Harden and healthy Kevin Durant. That’s the list. As a destructive two way force, his smooth movements give the impression that he is playing on ice. With that size, instinct, and soft jumper, I think he uses this series with the Warriors as his coming out party. After a slow start to game one, Davis brought the Pelicans back to make the fourth quarter interesting. His 35 points came late in the game, but sometimes late game success in a blowout can lead to good things the following game. The series may still be short, but the NBA world will be prepared for Anthony Davis ascension to league’s top player in 2015-2016.