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.
Whew. We got that out of the way. Tom Pestak and I tag teamed the recap on this lovely basketballiday. Bill Simmons’ 2016 presidential candidate, Brad Stevens (yes he’s over 35) had his scrappy Celtics squad as prepared to face Goliath as they could be, and the Cavs still covered the -12 point spread with a B- game. Once the emotions and nerves of the significance of the game settled in the second quarter the Cavs went on to out-score Boston 86 to 69 the rest of the way.
We’ve officially come full circle ladies and gentlemen. It was the Celtics of Boston beating the Cavs in game 6 of the 2010 playoffs that led to LeBron tearing off his Cavs jersey, his subsequent decision to create the collusion three and a drastic spike on whiskey consumption in the Hughey household over the past four years. The franchises are the same, but nearly every face has changed. Not one Celtic from that game is still on their roster and the only current Cavs from that contest are LeBron James and Anderson Varejao (sigh). If you are lucky enough to attend todays game, and you still have a voice tomorrow, you didn’t deserve to go in the first place. After 1,802 days, playoff basketball is back in Cleveland. Do you feel how I feel, when we go to the land of believe?
— UPDATE! — Make sure to get your CtB T-Shirts ordered! All proceeds go to the Lauren Hill “The Cure Starts Now!” foundation. Get yours in red, black, and gold!
Nate Smith is an Associate Editor. He grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and moved to NE Ohio in 2000. He adopted the Cavs in 2003 and graduated from Kent State in 2009 with a BA in English. He can be contacted at email@example.com or @oldseaminer on Twitter.
Tom Pestak is an Associate Editor. He's from the west side of Cleveland and lives and (mostly) dies by the success and (mostly) failures of his beloved teams. You can watch his fanaticism during Cavs games @tompestak.
Robert Attenweiler is a Staff Writer. Originally from OH, he's long made his home in NYC where he writes plays and screenplays (www.disgracedproductions.com) some of which end up being about Ohio, basketball or both. He has also written for The Classical and the blog Raising the Cadavalier. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @cadavalier.
Benjamin Werth is a Staff Writer. He was born in Cleveland and raised in Mentor, OH. He now lives in Germany where he is an opera singer and actor. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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