Well, that was fun. The Cavs jumped on the now-officially slumping Celtics and just never quite looked back, dominating the 1st and 4th quarters and holding the line well enough in the 2nd and 3rd to keep the Celtics from ever getting a lead. LBJ was completely dominant, getting to the hole at will, rendering Paul Pierce completely and utterly ineffective, and peppering in long-range jumpers and finding teammates for a filthy final line of 38/7/6 on 25 shots, with 4 steals and 3 blocks for good measure.
-My God, that’s the definition of an MVP performance from LeBron James. They couldn’t stop him from getting to the rim at all, he was 9-9 from the line, he was feeling it from deep, he set everybody up in the first quarter, and his defense on Paul Pierce was just brutal. And he was doing it all with a mean streak-he saw this as a playoff game, and instead of spending garbage time firing up long jumpers, he was hawking passing lanes and making gritty drives to the hoop, all while wearing an assassin’s glare. He was sending a message.
-This is the blueprint for beating the Celtics. The Celtics are too good defensively to allow the Cavs to have the same success with Mo-and-Delonte initiated sets they enjoy against the rest of the league-they’re too long and rotate too well to let the Cavs’ role players shoot teams out of games like they like to, something we saw tonight in the form of Delonte’s only two threes coming in garbage time and Mo going without a trey from deep, and Mo only had 1 assist.
-What you can do against the Celtics is this: have LeBron initiate everything and be the offensive focal point (check), get Boobie making some threes and Andy working inside off LeBron feeds (check), and shut them down defensively (double check.) We didn’t just beat the Celtics: we set a blueprint.
-LeBron’s shutting down of Paul Pierce got the attention, but don’t forget that Ray Allen was absolutely wearing Delonte West all night and needed 12 shots to get 12 points and didn’t see the free throw line once. 6 of Lont’s 8 were meaningless points, but he did his job tonight.
-Getting his confidence back: Tits Gibson.
-Hickson played a lot better than the box score shows in his 20 minutes: he only had three points, but he was extremely active and didn’t make too many mistakes.
-Wally was not better than his 3 points in 15 minutes, however.
-Ben was the Ben of old tonight, and him getting 1 free throw every time the Celtics went to Hack-a-Ben was a huge morale booster.
-Mo did what you want him to do against a team too good for him to be successful running the team; he created shots for himself and got buckets with teardrops and mid-range Js so that the Celtics had to think about someone other than LBJ.
-Andy continues to be rock-solid as a starter.
Play of The Game:
4:39 remaining, 3rd quarter, Celtics down 5: LeBron finds Andy for a sweet reverse toss-in with a KG foul for a 3-point play. The Cavs were in a lull here and the Celtics had pulled to within striking distance, and the team was getting close to settling in and watching LeBron launch jumpers when LeBron made a play that got the crowd loud, got Andy going, and put the Cavs firmly in the driver’s seat, and they never looked back.
Notes And Errata:
-You stay classy, KG: Not only did some lip-reading catch KG saying “Let’s go, you m***********ing p***ies” at the top of his lungs to nobody before tip-off, but after LeBron made a great hustle play to pick Eddie House clean, chase the ball down the length of the court and slap it out of bounds to make the Celtics have to get the ball all the way up the court with 8 seconds left on the shot clock, KG decided to give him a little hip-check while he was running by him during the dead-ball. There’s a difference between hustle and intensity and bush-league crap that’s supposed to be hustle, and that pretty much encapsulates it.
-If LeBron’s half-courter that he timed with a hack-a-Ben foul had counted, that would have been the coolest play ever.
-Fun moment of the night: Brian Scalabrine ducking his head behind a bench seat after Delonte hit a 3 to put the Cavs up 11.
-Wow, Ray Allen’s midrange game is pretty.
-I really do like pretty much everyone on this team except KG.