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What a Tease: Cavs 108, Celtics 88

 

Cavs The Blog Fear The Sword

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Wasn’t it?  That Celtics had fans on their feet for the entire second half only to have the gas run out of their offensive tank.  With 2:50, Doc Rivers made wholesale substitutions, taking the starters out and putting in the end of the bench to compliment Nate Robinson- but they rolled over way before that.

By the time the fourth quarter came around, the Celtics had all but laid down and kissed the feet of the Cleveland Cavaliers as if to say, “thanks for letting us make it interesting for a half.”

And interesting it was.  The Celtics led in almost every statistical category going into halftime.  Rondo looked  like a man on a mission, asserting himself on the offensive end and imposing his will with penetration.  LeBron James was the only Cavalier to really get it going in the first half, making nearly all of his spot up jumpers with hands in his face.

I don’t know about you, but I was out of my seat for the first half. I was all jazzed up watching Ray Allen stroke it from downtown, going 4-5  from deep.  Rasheed Wallace was also abusing Anderson Varejao on the block and Glen Davis manhandled (literally) Shaquille O’Neal.

Once Shaq went down with what was described as a “severely sprained thumb” (sound familiar?) the Cavaliers were able to speed up the tempo and space the floor.  The absolute turning point in the game came in the third when LeBron hit a stationary spot up three with Marquis Daniels right up on him.  LeBron’s three cut the Celtics’ lead to six and I remembering noting, “here it is, game over.”  Terrible feeling.

And due to that terrible feeling, I’m going with bullets from here on out:

  • A really bizarre thing happened at the end of the first half.  With 1:05 to go, LeBron James cut in from the wing and took it strong to the bucket, made a jump stop, and proceeded to get stuffed by the rim.  During halftime I re-watched this play a half a dozen times and cannot, for the life of me, figure out where his lift went.  I looked for a bump that would have thrown him off balance- there was none.  I looked for a swipe that maybe impeded his explosion- none to be found.  It was really eerie.  Like looking 12 years into the future when LeBron shouldn’t really be playing any more due to being a shadow of his former self.  Just a huge guy with no lift.  Still dominant posting players up and shooting fade-away jump shots, but not much else.  Maybe it’s because I cover the Celtics and don’t have ‘Bron under a microscope, but seeing this was unsettling.  You can torch the Celtics for 36 LeBron, but I’m still going to ask you what the hell happened on that one.
  • The Cavs went with some interesting lineups in this game.  For a run in the second quarter, the Cavs had Antawn Jamison, J.J. Hickson, and Anderson Varejao in all at the same time.  I suppose the argument is, Jamison can hit threes, so he’s the small forward.  And Hickson’s really athletic and active on the glass so he’s the power forward.  And Varajao has terrible hair so he must be the center.  Really though, all of these guys are power forwards.  The weirdest part of the whole thing,  was Ray Allen guarding J.J. Hickson. Whattt?  If you have the game DVR’d, watch it again- it’ll blow your mind.
  • Rondo has a hero-complex.  I’ll write about this more later on in the week, but Rondo wants the ball in his hands for the last seconds of any quarter regardless of the type of shot- which is both annoying and commendable.  I like the fact that Rondo isn’t afraid of destroying his shooting percentage (HA! What shooting percentage?) but I also don’t like the fact that he could be wasting better looks from his teammates.
  • This isn’t anything new, but Rasheed Wallace will not ever take a charge for this team.  He just won’t.  I don’t ever remember ‘Sheed taking a charge on purpose, but if you ever thought playing “Celtics basketball” would get ‘Sheed to bend his knees, get that thought out of your head.
  • Garnett had an overall poor showing.  10, 10, and 5 might look nice on paper, but he missed a lot of shots he should and does usually make.  None worse than a five foot bunny he missed with five minutes to go in the game.  Hickson even backed off on Garnett and he whiffed it.
  • Nate Robinson looked nice in the first half, but only got a run in the fourth when the game was out of reach.  I can’t tell if my thirst for a Celtics’ energy boost will be quenched with the Nate-orade, but I’m not willing to give up trying to drink it.
  • I know the Celtics got smacked in the mouth tonight, but I expected a little more love and respect for Leon Powe- especially coming off potential career ending injury with which he tried to finish a game for the Celtics.  The fan reception when he entered the game was pretty weak as well.  The best thing he got was a hand offered to him at the end by a Rob Reiner look-alike.  Sheesh Boston, we’re better than that.
  • hank

    Does anyone notice that Rivers consistantly has a lineup on the court for extended minutes of the third and crucial 4th quarter that can’t score??…Every game they have a double digit lead and every night this happens. Tonight he had Rondo, Tony allen, Davis and Wallace on the court together for a huge chunk of time when cleveland was eating them alive.Where is nate?? he came in the 2nd and was great only to ride the bench. What did we trade house for??The celts are old and banged up but rivers is getting it way too easy from the media.

  • john robles

    Good example that Doc is not doing his job, clearly
    to many minutes for those that keep losing the lead game after game …… Nate should be left in the game
    more to get his game going. Big Baby can’t jump
    to many TO’s in the second half. Rondo continues
    to throw the ball away just like Pierce…. KG not doing it. THIS IS THE END OF THE LINE FOR CELTICS

  • Berkcelt

    Good point about Rondo @ end of quarters. People complain about Pierce’s ISO’s and say give it to Rondo but…that seems like a net loss to me at this point.

    Agree about Leon and the reception he got (although it was a little hard to tell with the way TNT showed it). It sucked seeing him in that ugly jersey.

  • Mike

    Mixed emotions seeing Leon take the floor tonight. So happy to see him playing basketball again, but so angry at the C’s for not singing him back.

  • http://celticshub sallyg

    i sort of agree with you hank but my question is with the 3rd quarter y is doc letting the starters stay in the game when they are getting smoked on a 16-4 run instead of subbing at the 5-7 mark the starters were in until about 130 left in the quarter which clearly left no gas in anyones tank and got the bench cold IMO…we needed offense early in the 3rd and where was our “instant offsense” that we traded eddie for….warming the bench what good is that, doc is really starting to aggrivate me playoff hopes are probably gone when you have the hottest shooter and OLDEST playing 40+ min a game give the guy a lil rest here n there along with rondo let nate do his thing so ray n rondo have the legs to finish the game…if im not mistaken rondo played 45 min and dominated for about 20 but you can only go hard for so long i dont care how young he is….kiss that ring goodbye

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    another painful, painful second half. but no pierce, so i can conveniently choose to ignore and forget.

    i’ll still take this matchup over the hawks……and hope that mike brown plays shaq a lot. hickson has impressed me tons this year….can’t believe he is getting CD-DNPs….he would get major burn anywhere else. a rich man’s deandre jordan….getting fed by bron not baron.

  • irisheyes9302

    Could not agree more on all points, especially the Powe reception. It was part of the reason I spent the money to go to the game and I was so disappointed. Where was the video montage for the guy that played for several minutes on a torn ACL?

    I don’t know why I’m so disappointed. Without the Captain, I kind of expected them to lose. But to blow a huge lead AGAIN, to the Lebrons…G.R.O.S.S.

    Also, from now on, it should be a rule that nobody is allowed to pass the ball to Sheed when he’s outside the 3 point line. He’s killing us.

  • RBD

    There is no chance this team wins three rounds in the east, muchless a finals matchup with LA.

  • charlie

    question—why does charles barkley despise the celtics? he was against paul pierce in the three point shootout and he was against the c’s tonight.

    what made this loss feel even worse was that barkley guessed correctly on his prediction “guaranteeing” the cavs would prevail.

    and paul pierce is definitely in the top 10 celtics of all time…

  • rob

    this is flat out embarrassing the whole time i was watching the game i was saying to myself “ok we have a nice little lead , wonder when hes gonna put big baby in (AND YES GLEN DAVIS YOU GET SWATTED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL EVERYTIME YOU TRY TO “TAKE IT STRONG TO THE HOOP” SO I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL YOU THAT UNTIL YOU EITHER GET TRADED WHICH I WOULD LOVE OR MAN UP) also it’d be nice if we maybe put nate robinson in, i mean we did trade for him so he could explode off the bench when we had our usual no offense stretch. Don’t get me wrong nate did sort of explode for those couple of minutes until our so called coach took him out and put in tony allen a turnover machine. I know lebrons a damn good player but maybe marquis could play a little D on him, just a thought. Also when rondo goes into his little shell someone needs to tell doc to put nate robinson in the game!

  • DRJ1

    The good news: Turns out the return of Z is a GOOD thing, the opposite of what we all thought. This was made clear by the departure of Shaq and the Cavs’ subsequent 180-degree turnaround. It’s clear that Mike doesn’t recognize this little secret… that they’re a much better team without the big lumberers in the middle.

    We should send our best doctors to cure Shaq of whatever ails him. We need him out there.

  • AC

    @DRJ1: You are sort of correct. The Cavs huge lineup is ineffective against the Celtics, since they have great post defenders and Rondo can kill Cleveland’s bigs on the pick and roll. However, Cleveland’s size is very helpful for them against teams like LA (Shaq just kills Bynum, Gasol, Mbenga) and as a means to throw some size against the Magic. So smaller, more athletic lineup might be better against the Celtics (see Hawks) but Shaq is still going to be needed for some other potential playoff foes.

  • http://www.livefromapt.blogspot.com w2

    The Rondo situation concerns me. The dude had a handoff to Ray for a three that he simply looked off. There is so many reasons to be concerned, but the on again off again focus on offense has to be at the top of the list.

  • http://www.bostonburgerblog.com Richard

    Excellent write-up, as always, you guys are right on the money.

  • David

    The problems the c’s are having now, won’t go away. When you have an old team like they have, your going to get stretches of games were Pp,kg,ra will all be inefective. Rondo is far from a great player, but anyone that watches the games knows that rondo is big reason boston has had success this year.
    The addition of Rasheed hasbeen a disater. Doc rivers is having his worst coaching year. To go back to my original purpose of why I wrote this, the celtics have melted-down in the 4th quater all season long. Boston losing to Denver & Clevland etc…. is a sign for what is to come. The playoff are approaching and the celtics are what they are. If Pierce had of played they still would have lost to cleveland.
    I think Boston will win their divison. They will finish probably with the 3rd or 4th seed. Where things get trick is they will be match up in the second round against cleveland or Orlando. Boston can’t beat either one of those teams. Boston F.O needs to add some younger, athletic talent during the offseason, to mix with their aging vets. This will help them maybe to make a run next year, before Pp & Kg become completely inaffective.

    To comment on Big baby he is totally useless. I can understand why no one wanted to sign him before the season started. I think it is sad that the Celtics championship window closed so quickly. I thought that they would at least would be able to contend for 4-5 years at a high level. But the injuries to KG & PP have really hurt, not to mention they are really worn out in basketball years.

  • David

    @ Chalie, My opinion to your question about Charles Barkley. First off, I think the reason he picked against the Celtics is because he tells it how it is. I mean Kenny Smith is a bigger idiot than Barkley is. But Charles speaks his mind, sometimes he actually gets it right. I don’t think he depise the celtics, he just understand probably better than most people how aging superstars can’t play at a high level after a certain point in there career. Paul P is def. in the top ten all time celtics IMO.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    Taking Charles Barkley seriously is your first mistake.

  • urbeltic

    “Garnett had an overall poor showing” I love the dude and his intensity, but …its so hard to watch him these days. I was watching him last night and had flashes of Artis Gilmore in a Celts shirt cross my mind. I know that is way overstating it, but … its closer than I want.

  • Scott

    I hate to say it but the Celtics are finished. KG is a shell of his former self. He look horrible out there hobbling around on one leg. He exploded last night a brief time but then it was over. Don’t know what Doc was thinking by keeping Rondo in almost the whole game. The guy clearly wore down in the second half and they should’ve played Nate a lot more. Wallace starts off the game looking decent by going 3-3 and then misses his next 6 shots and stops playing D and stops rebounding. Wallace is a cancer to this team. This team used to be about team defense and Rasheed doesn’t care. He hurts them when he’s on the court. Celtics need to tell this guy this is how we are going to play it and if he doesn’t do it then sit him down. Doc needs to stop leaving these mediocore lineups in the game for so long. And he needs to figure out why the Celtics ALWAYS collapse in the second half. I knew it was going to happen last night after that energetic first half. They just can’t play a full 48 minutes anymore. We knew this team would have a short window of opportunity when they got KG and Ray. The window is closing on us right now. Doc, pleas figure someway to motivate this team for 48 minutes a game.

  • I love Green

    I just wish it was the postseason already, and then the offseason.

    Hopefully we get a player like Joe Johnson, and then a good young power forward.

  • Yatrix

    Somet things:

    -I thought the crowd sucked last night. Seemed like they were constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    -I’m getting sick of Rondo taking last second jumpers to end quarters/halves too.

    -Nate Robinson scored 6 points in about 3 seconds and was never seen again. We brought him in to score and we didn’t put him in when we needed a punch.

    -Doc is awful this year.

    -Glen Davis needs to quit going to the rim. I’m getting real tired of seeing layups missed/blocked.

    -Glen Davis a paid athlete, which means he’s paid to do one thing: play/prepare for basketball. How is it that he can’t get down to a “lean” 250? If Davis had lift, he’d easily be an 18-8 guy as a starter. He’s got good footwork and soft hands and nice touch. However, in traffic, he’s awful. How are you 6’8″ and struggling to dunk?! In his contract, they should extend it with weight escalators. If you are 250, you get 7 mil, if you are 260, you get 6 mil, if you are 270, 5 mil and so on. If you are 290, you get league minimum. I’d eat lots of greens for 7 million dollars.

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  • http://celticshub.com Leonard

    This team actually got me upset last night watching how they stopped competing against the Cavaliers(at home no less). They flat gave up in that game. Paul Pierce or not there is no excuse for watching Mo Williams shoot a three that he had time to read the paper, take a dump, get a haircut and a shave before he shot it and no Celtic move towards him at all. If a team is going to blow me out in my own building they are going to have to put their hands around my neck and squeeze the life out of me. Boston quit and if they are not embarrassed they should be. Why aren’t Rondo and Perkins shooting FT’s until their fingers are numb? Too much time at the line and not enough makes. As a team they are 28th in FT makes-cant make it out of the first round bricking like that.

  • http://celticshub.com Leonard

    If they don’t get some heart and fire they will get blown out by 40 in Cleveland next month. I understand bad days at the office but if anyone saw this game and thinks that Cleveland is 20 better than Boston did not watch the same game I watched.

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  • still enjoying #17

    Doc, your killing us!

  • c-dog

    Finally – someone else sees that Rondo over-dribbles. There are countless times during the games when KG or Sheed have someone on the block and Rondo just looks at them – and then dribbles around. And we wonder why the offense is so stagnant…players get tired of working to get position or open and then having the PG just look at them.

  • mitch

    doc is just a bad coach, taking nate out after he hit that three pointer was his first but not his last mistake of the game

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