• Let’s cut right to chase and get the C’s reactions to last night’s disaster:
Paul Pierce, via ESPNBoston.com:
“Terrible loss — it was embarrassing to tell you the truth. It’s embarrassing when you lose at home like that.”
Doc on LeBron via the ProJo:
“He was great. You knew he was going to grab the ball and get his team going, but there was not a lot of resistance. He was playing H-O-R-S-E.”
Ray Allen, via Chris Forsberg again:
“There’s nothing that I can look at or take from it. Obviously, I can take the lack of aggression that we had on the floor tonight. I’ll take that and say, Sunday, we have to be the bulldozer.”
Doc on LeBron, via ESPNBoston.com:
“I think he’s healthy,” said Rivers. “That’s how I’m going to characterize it. His elbow looked very good tonight, and so, enough with the elbow injury, alright?
• Doc’s comments about the officiating after the game are only going to give more fodder to those who actually believe the NBA wants the Cavaliers to win this series and has instructed the refs to make that happen. Here’s Doc (via the Herald) talking about how the C’s may have to send more tape of possible uncalled fouls to league officials—something the Cavs have apparently been doing:
“I’ll let you guys talk about the fouls,” said Rivers, cognizant of the fines that have been handed out by the NBA lately for criticism aimed at its officials. “I think we are attacking as well, but I think I’m going to have to start sending more video in, like they are. Maybe that works.”
Cleveland coach Mike Brown and others on his staff have taken great advantage of a tool that allows for teams to have plays, and fouls, reviewed and evaluated by league officials.
Side note: I love when coaches start a comment by telling the media, “I’ll let you guys talk about the fouls,” and then proceed to immediately talk about the fouls.
• Gary Washburn at the Globe seems to have taken the loss sort of personally:
What a pathetic way to lose home-court advantage. The Celtics were slapped back into reality last night by the suddenly efficient and extremely motivated Cleveland Cavaliers, who displayed why they were so heavily favored to win this series.
But no case can be made for last night’s effort because the Celtics played to lose.
That last part is overkill. What drives me crazy about fans and (occasionally) columnists is the myopic tendency to explain any loss by focusing only on the shortcomings of the team you root for/cover. You know the primary reason the Cavaliers destroyed Boston last night? Because they played great, great basketball. Watch the first quarter again—the C’s screen/roll defense was actually pretty sound. The Cavaliers just made shots. Seriously: Watch it again and find the allegedly pathetic defense.
The defense took a step back in the 2nd half. That’s when you saw Shaq getting a wide-open dunk in the half court and Mo Williams breezing into the paint for a lay-up on a simple screen/roll. That’s when Boston was consistently out of position.
But they were down by 25 by that time. The Cavaliers won this game more than Boston lost it.
This isn’t a a shot at Washburn, who does give a smidgen of credit to the Cavs. But to say Boston “played to lose”? Come on. A veteran team like this doesn’t “play to lose” a critical playoff game. They just got out-played. It happens.
• Steve Bulpett gives the Cavs a bit more credit in this notebook for the Herald, and he highlights this quote that a few commenters have already noticed:
“I thought we had two lousy practices,” he said. “I thought our preparation was pulling nails. And, so, that was the result.”
What could that mean? What a maddening quote.
• Paul Pierce was 4-of-15 from the floor on Friday and is now shooting 31 percent in this series. Both the Herald and the Globe have the obligatory “What’s Wrong with Paul?” pieces, and Doc was pretty blunt after the game:
“He’s got to get more involved,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “He’s got to play better.’’
Pierce agreed: “I’ve got to start playing better.”
And here’s Mike Brown, explaining how Cleveland is shutting Pierce down:
“We’re not doing anything special on Paul,’’ said Brown. “LeBron has had that assignment for most of the series, if not all of the series. You know when he catches it, he’s just trying to do a nice job of making him work.”
Pierce has attempted 42 shots in this series, and 16 of them (38 percent) have been three-pointers. That’s well above Pierce’s normal ratio of threes to twos. You’ve got to credit LeBron and the Cavs D for that. LeBron has become a legit all-NBA defender, a shot-blocking threat and a brutal one-on-one defender when he has a height advantage on the opposing small forward.
And the Cavs as a whole hold opponents to one of the lowest shooting percentages in the league on shots at the rim, per Hoopdata.
Pierce is 9-of-26 (34.5 percent) on two-point shots and 4-of-16 (25 percent) on three-point shots. The two-point percentage may not change in this series unless he gets hot from the mid-range; that’s how good LBJ and the Cavs are at protecting the rim.
If the C’s are going to win this series, two things about Pierce’s game do have to change:
1) He must shoot the three better.
2) He must get to the line more. He’s been there just 11 times in 3 games, and that’s not enough. Of course, the lack of FTAs is likely related to his increasing number of three-point shots.
• If there was a moment that turned the momentum of last night’s game, it was when KG picked up his 2nd foul with 5:11 to go in the 1st quarter. KG and Rondo have been the team’s two consistent offensive weapons in this series, and one was heading to the bench for the next 8 minutes of the game. The C’s trailed 18-8 when KG went out and 43-25 when he came back in.
Here’s Doc, via this Globe story:
“Offensively we didn’t have a lot of movement,’’ said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “There’s no doubt about that. Didn’t go to Kevin enough.”
Foul trouble will do that to you.
• Story: Shaq played better last night. My question: Why did the C’s double-team Shaq on (by my count) at least three possessions? Shaq dished two key assists in the 2nd quarter when the C’s doubled him. Perk had handled Shaq just fine by himself in Games 1 and 2—Shaq could not get any good looks as long as Perk stayed down on Shaq’s pump fakes.
So why the doubles? Perhaps it’s a sign that Perk is hurting more than the team is letting on? Or maybe the C’s just ad-libbed in a way that made no sense?
• Rondo has become such a force that the Cavs are crowing about holding him to an 18-8 line on 9-of-17 shooting. Antawn Jamison:
“I thought we did a good job making him shoot jump shots tonight. We know he’s not comfortable and he wants to get in the lane and make plays. I thought we did a good job on pressuring him. We made it uncomfortable for him tonight.”
Rondo did shoot more Js—including three three-pointers, a number of attempts from deep he’s eclipsed just twice in his career—but, again: 18 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds.
On the negative side, 8 assists is quite a bit fewer than freaking 19, and Rondo attempted zero foul shots.
But I’m not sure that has as much to do with Anthony Parker’s D on Rondo as it does with the fact that the Cavs shot 60 percent from the floor. Here’s Doc, via ESPNBoston:
“It’s tough to run when you’re taking the ball out of bounds every single time,” said Rivers. “When you think about that they shot 62 percent in the first half and they still had more offensive rebounds than us, that’s just bad numbers for us. So we’ll live with the Anthony Parker-on-Rondo matchup like we did in Game 2 and we were fine with that.”
Anthony Parker, at nearly 35 years old, is not going to stop Rajon Rondo. Period.
• LeBron last night became the 2nd-youngest player in NBA history to score 2,000 points in the playoffs, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. You should be able to guess who pulled it off at a younger age.
• Insult to injury: J.J. Hickson didn’t notice the towel Danny Ainge tossed in the air (via the Plain-Dealer):
“I didn’t even see him throw the towel,” Hickson said. “I didn’t even know about it until [Thursday]. He didn’t distract me.”