Post-game Reactions

• 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.”

More later.

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Zach Lowe

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  • enough of the nightmare..just wash yourself up and do what you’re being paid and expected for..bring the championship..

  • Sophomore

    What really struck me during the first quarter was that the Cs manufactured a bunch of open shots for themselves, but missed them. On the other end, the Cavs were guilty of a bunch of turnovers, and the early strategy of pounding it in to Shaq wasn’t paying dividends. Meanwhile, their scores were on long jumpers.

    I figured, alright, this is all going to level out in time.

    Then the ticky-tack fouls on Perk and Garnett – including one bizarre phantom foul involving Jameson. And all the starch seemed to go out of the Cs. Maybe they were lacking to begin with.

    Also weird, weird weird – Ray Allen bringing the ball up. What was that? Rondo had been the best player in this series, and you’re taking the ball out of his hands? Why?

  • I also noticed Ray bringing it up. Should have mentioned this in the notebook, but I thought Mike Brown’s move to pressure the C’s bringing up the ball was great. The C’s were slow getting into their sets and it fired up CLE.

  • Also: I thought the first two fouls on KG were legit calls, but I haven’t gone back and looked at ’em yet.

  • torpid bunny

    People seem to put too much importance on a single game. They were acting as if a 3-1 series lead was inevitable after the celtics won game 2. Cavs shot lights out and the celtics couldn’t tie together stops and big shots. My big problem with Rivers is he tends to play certain people too long when they are ineffective. He should have sat Garnett and Pierce mid-third quarter and gone with Baby, Sheed, Tony Allen, something to change the dynamic. Pierce clearly had nothing and would have done better resting. Also, if you concede a game at that point you staunch the momentum in a way.

  • DRJ1

    So Doc ASKS the assembled media to talk about the referees, and what happens? None of them does. Not every the blogs. What’s that about? Are you all trying to pretend you’re in the news business? Can’t talk about the OBVIOUS?

    What happened in this game was that the referees did not wait until later in the game to start calling irrational, phantom fouls on the Celtics, while letting Cleveland get away with murder. They started right at tipoff. The Cs had no chance. A non-existent moving pick here, ticky-tack foul there, all while getting slammed on their drives with no calls — and pretty soon, the Celtics gave up. All this in the first quarter. That must be some kind of record.

    It is true that the Celtics might have lost this game anyway, because the Cavs didn’t need the refs’ help. They were hitting shots. Even very tough shots. From everywhere. But it’s also true that the refs were determined to make SURE the Cavs won and didn’t go down 1-3 in this series. Once that end was evident, they went back to calling a reasonably fair game, presumably to hide their intentions.

    The Celtics gave up in the first quarter, and never came back. I’m not sure they can be blamed for that. There is little doubt in my mind that the referees would not have permitted a comeback. The end result of this game was never in doubt, and the Celtics, looking around in the first frame, knew it.

    How about ONE blog actually doing what Doc implored you to do? Talk about the officiating, for a change — because THAT WAS THE ONE AND ONLY STORY WORTH PRINTING about Game 3.

  • I love Green

    Gotta win tomorrow. Simple as that.

  • Here’s my challenge then, and I have no pre-conceptions, because I haven’t re-watched the 1st quarter: FInd me a phantom foul on the Celtics. If you do, I’ll run the clip on the site.

  • DRJ1

    @Zach– First quarter, moving pick on Baby… comes to mind immediately. There were many more… How about that flagrant on Perk? Have to review the two on KG in the first quarter. And how about the Cavs SLAMMING the Cs to the ground (Lebron on Baby comes to mind) with no whistle?

    How about you review the game BEFORE you come out implying (or pronouncing) that the refs did not throw the game? And how about actually LISTENING TO DOC, who implored you (well, the media… but we’re on this blog now) to say write about the refs?

  • DRJ1

    Btw… on that moving Baby pick, Ray drained the 3, and the game would have completely changed. It was a 5-point swing, that call.

  • Why haven’t I reviewed the game yet? Because I have a life, frankly. It’s Saturday, and I have things to do.

    I’ll check the moving pick, b/c I remember that one. I thought at the time that the two fouls on KG were totally legit. The flagrant on Perk is a 50/50 call, and you risk it when you go shoulder first into someone. People think the “play on the ball” thing is in the rules, but it’s not, so you can’t use that to justify a flagrant. But I didn’t have a big problem with that call.

  • And, honestly, the burden of proof lies on both sides of the argument. If you’re going to accuse the refs of something as serious as throwing a game, you’ve got to prove that, too, just as others have to use evidence to argue for the legitimacy of the calls. Otherwise, it’s just uninformed shouting on both sides.

  • cavstroll1

    @DRJ1 i thought whimpering about refs after a loss was unique to cleveland, looks like I was wrong…

  • DRJ1

    You asked for details, here they are:

    9:51 – KG hit on elbow while shooting, ref standing right there watching: No call
    7:00 – Flagrant-1 on Perk. Not sure if there was any other way for Perk to contest the shot. Highly debatable.
    5:11 – 2nd foul on KG. There was NO CONTACT by KG. His arm swings out at the end of the play, but in slow-mo it’s clear that the arm did not touch anybody.
    4:58 – *Rondo shoots over Mo, gets hit over his whole body, no call. About 1 minute later…
    3:54 – Ray is called for a foul on Jamison for doing the EXACT same thing Mo did to Rondo at 4:58* (which was not called, 1 minute earlier). The similarity of these two events is remarkable. One called, the other ignored.
    3:39 – Baby sets a perfect pick. Gets called for an offensive foul. Baby did NOT move. Ray hits the 3, but it’s negated.
    0:27 – UNREAL foul by Varejao on Baby, who was shooting right under the basket. A very violent SLAM, sending Baby to the floor. No call.

    10:41 – the coup de grace. Lebron fouls Baby in the MOST OBVIOUS WAY POSSIBLE. While Baby is shooting, he SLAMS him on the elbow and sends him to the floor. No call.

    End of review

    I must admit that it’s clear the Cavs were incredibly hot, right from the start, and the Cs were incredibly cold. But nevertheless, the refs had a lot to do with it. If the refs had been reasonably fair, the Cs would not have given up. But – with the Cavs hitting everything they were throwing up, AND with the refs clearly biased in their favor, the Celtics, understandably, gave up. And that was the game.

    @cavstroll1 — so we are supposed to ignore reality? If you have an argument, present it please. Otherwise get lost.

  • DRJ1: I just watched the 1Q as well. Great minds think alike.

    WE disagree on the 2nd foul on KG—I think there is clear contact on Jamison, possibly twice, once when the pass comes in and again when Jamison is falling. To my eyes, it appears KG hits him in the chest when he’s falling.

    I just watched the Rondo shot over Mo in the post again. There is contact, but much of it is initiated by Rondo, who pushes offs lightly with his arm. This is a 50/50 call, but I have no problem with it. In the larger context of the whistles going slightly Cleveland’s way, I can see why it’s frustrating.

    To me, C’s fans have just two legit gripes in the 1Q:

    1) Pierce not getting a call on the drive to the hoop (which you didn’t even mention, DRJ1! Shame on you!). He’s clearly hacked, perhaps twice. Check the 7:06 mark.

    2) The illegal screen on Baby. There are a dozen screens just like that in every game. This should have been a foul, and it’s solid acting by Mo. Baby does move his left arm just a bit as Mo comes through, but it’s hard to tell if that’s simply because he’s bracing for contact or he actually tries to impede Mo.

    But this should not be a foul. I re-read the NBA rule on illegal screens just to check. SHould have been a no-call.

    3) The Ray foul on jamison’s floater is another 50/50 call. THere appears to be contact at the hip area, but it could have easily been a no-call.

    Conclusion: The CAvs got the benefit of most 50/50 calls in the 1st quarter. This is indisputable. John Krolik at Cavs The Blog even said in his recap that the “whistles weren’t going Boston’s way.” (http://www.cavstheblog.com/?p=2322).

    But there are only 1-2 egregious calls in that quarter. Not enough to back a conspiracy theory. Enough to be frustrated with.

  • whatnow

    The mo williams no-call on rondo vs. the ray foul called on jamison is the only one that you mentioned that makes sense. kg’s fouls in the beginning were fouls. when you are as big as baby is, if you move at all, it can be seen, and i hate to say it, but he moved (though not as much as some players get away with). the lebron swat was a foul, but when you are a player known for swatting the ball, well, you get the call (or non-call in this case). baby fell for no reason, making it look like he was trying to “sell” the foul just to get a call. he shouldn’t have gone down, he might have actually gotten the call not selling it. oh well, more games to play.

  • DRJ1

    @Zach, @whatnnow — you’re both ignoring several other points I made. (Sorry for missing the one on Paul… I went for the ones I could clearly see.) Specifically, the incredibly violent slams on Baby by Anderson and Lebron. Amazing no-calls. And really… saying that Baby moved on that pick is like saying he breathed. That’s not a moving pick and you know it.

    Also the similarity between 4:58 and 3:54 is uncanny. So it’s remarkable to see one ignored and then the other called one minute later: they were as identical as two plays can be.

    2nd foul on KG… please watch that again. Ref is calling arm swing… but slow-mo shows the arm hit nothing.

    And so it goes. Cs gave up because of the COMBINATION of incredible shooting from the Cavs and the refs making it impossible to win.

    Conspiracy? Who knows. I can’t read minds. I’m just doing what Doc ASKED US TO DO. Which is talk about the refereeing…. which was certainly one-sided.

  • I love Green

    Don’t forget there were A LOT of tick tack fouls called on the Celtics, and on the other end weren’t called on the Cavs. Basically the fouls that shouldn’t be called, were called for the Celts, and not the Cavs.

  • I hadn’t watched the Big BAby block yet–as I said, I watched 1Q only. I’ll watch the other when I get back tonight.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I wasn’t expecting any home calls when I saw Bennett Salvatore calling the game…… Actually, just the opposite.

    I’ve not had a problem with most of the refs this year, but I remember one game where the reffing was an atrocity. I think nearly everyone complained about the 1/11 game @ home with ATL. Benny was horrific. We were getting mauled on drives etc & attempted 18 free throws while ATL attempted 33 free throws. It was clearly 1 sided, & the only thing missing was Benny high 5ing the Hawks & kissing them goodbye at the end.

    I want to try to be objective about this game. We shot A LOT of jump shots. It is fairly difficult to get a foul called on a jumper—unless you’re bron throwing tantrums (tantrums which would get Sheed thrown out of the game). I’m afraid that bron has Jordan status. Jordan was great, but he got away with murder. Like Jordan, bron has it good both ways. Zero to no calls on defense & ticky tack foul drawing status on offense. Bron is very good & smart. No doubt. But NO ONE is that lucky. Bron is VERY ACTIVE on the defensive end (1st team D). Dwight Howard is very active on the Defensive end & is in foul trouble all the time. There is a double standard. Bron bodies up guys & is very physical with near zero whistles. If we body up bron & are physical it’s a whistle. That is a HUGE advantage.

    Give credit to the cavs because they shot 91% from the line after shooting so poorly the 2 previous games. That was fantastic shooting! They also shot well from the field with layups & uncontested shots galore. But all those free throws gave them 31 points. Does 31 points make a difference???

    I’m upset with Doc because he is acting like a wimp. You’ve got to go down fighting! Doc should have gotten a T DURING THE GAME. Also, I think TEN time champion Phil Jackson has the right approach….Just SAY IT & TAKE THE FINE! Honestly, we got a ton of calls & the Lakers were short changed in that one playoff game in the Garden. Phil called out the refs, got fined, & there was a definite change in the refs thereafter. If Doc doesn’t want to do it then Danny should.

    The cavs are a good team. They don’t need the refs favoritism on top of their great talent. Does anyone think it is even POSSIBLE that we will get to the line more than the cavs in ANY game of this series?

    We have to drive more and pound it into the paint, especially with KG. That is where most fouls are called. That is OUR RESPONSIBILITY. But if bron & others are getting to the line on their drives while we continue to get hacked on drives with no calls then Doc & Danny need to make a scene, right?

  • cavstroll1

    @DRJ1 – Its nice to know that 1 quarter of calls not going the C’s way can make them give up and lose by 29….Here’s hoping the refs do the same tomorrow, so that the beloved city of cleveland can win yet another championship….


  • ed

    you guys do realize that the cavs ended up with more fouls than boston (24-22)? and this doesn’t help: lebron james- 38/8/7 … Garnett, Allen, Pierce COMBINED – 37/11/7. also, Rondo 18/8/5 … Mo WIlliams 12/7/3. 4 starting players’ combined effort should not be effectively cancelled out 2 players on the opposing team if you expect to win

  • Cptn Bubbles

    They called 10 fouls on the Cavs in the 4th quarter when the game was out of reach. They called 7 fouls on the Cavs in the entire 1st half of play.

    Besides some having a bad shooting night, our guys can’t score when they are sitting on the bench in foul trouble. They also change their game to avoid fouling out.

  • ed

    the cavs starters still had more fouls than the boston starters 14-11. Garnett, Perkins, and Rondo led the Celtics in fouls… all of them ended the game with 3. and the only player remotely in foul trouble in the game was kendrick perkins in the first quarter with 2 quick fouls. after he came back into the game halfway into the 2nd, he only was called for one more the entire game. if they changed their game to avoid “foul trouble” when they enter the second quarter with only 1 foul (Garnett, Rondo, Allen), then they are underachieving for no real reason, as they are not in real foul trouble. the timing of some of the fouls in the first quarter may have been rough, but the difference in calls was only 3 in the first quarter (Cavaliers – 5, Celtics – 8). id hardly call that backbreaking. blaming referees for a team’s underperformance of this magnitude is not only dumb, it makes the Celtics look even worse, since it seems that they are unable to overcome even the slightest adversity

  • ray allen’s 3 that was nullified due to big baby’s “illegal” greatly affected the phase of the game..

  • ed

    you mean when boston was down dy 11 already? assuming you give them the 3 there, they are still down 8, and only scored another 5 pts the rest of the quarter due to rondo and allen missing their next 3 combined attempts, and wallace missing a shot, and davis getting blocked (give him the free throws here if you want, it could have been a foul). even if the cavs dont score AT ALL the rest of the quarter, they are still up one, worst case scenario for them. Boston still got outscored in the following 3 quarters by 3,4,and 3 respectively. theres really no way to make an argument that the game, due to officiating, is any closer than an 11 pt margin. everyone needs to face the fact that boston played a terrible game defensively, and couldn’t buy a bucket in the first quarter, regardless of the refs.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Remotely in foul trouble?
    Perk went out with 2 fouls early. KG went out with 2 fouls 32 seconds later. BOTH of our best bigs were on the bench, not just Perk. This compromised our 2 Best Big defenders. Taking away shot blocking & rebounding & leaving a very vulnerable lane. This led to more layups & rebounds for the cavs.

    KG had 2 fouls when he came back in the 2nd.

    The Cavs had 4 fouls on them in the 1st. Boston had double that 8, BUT more importantly, ***7 of the 8*** fouls on Boston were shooting fouls. 7 trips to the line to our 2 trips. The difference in calls led to more points for the cavs.

    Our bigs are out due to fouls so it is easier for the cavs to score & rebound. The cavs are shooting great. The refs had the cavs at the line 7 times & we got to the line just twice in the 1st quarter. All those fouls did matter for different reasons.

    Maybe someone else did, but I never blamed the refs solely. I say the cavs shot very well…. ESPECIALLY FROM THE FREE THROW LINE. We defended poorly. We did not play well, but the refs definitely had an impact.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    Edit….My bad, Cavs did have 5 fouls in the 1st Q. Still, more than double the trips to the line for the cavs in the 1st Q.

  • ed

    whoops… my mistake on KG, totally missed that one. defintely left the lane more open, and probably did become a target for the cavs. on the other hand, i also think that a lack of shooting fouls for Boston in the 1st had a lot to do with the fact that they combined for a total of 16 (or more, i lost count) shots that were jump shots. hard to get to line shooting jumpers. and hard to cut into a lead when they only made 3 or 4 of said shots. they really didn’t have many attempts in the paint at all, Rondo wasn’t able to get into the lane as he could in previous games. Rondo missed a layup, Pierce missed a layup, and Glen got blocked, which should have been a foul. aside from those, they never really put themselves in position to attack the basket and get to the line. Cptn Bubbles, i know that you didn’t blame the game solely on the refs, but there were others that blamed the C’s lack of fight after the 1st on the refs “giving” the game to the cavs. my opinion is, that any team will have to overcome things like officiating at some point, and to blame a game on the refs when there were so many other GLARING reasons for the outcome is ridiculous. the game could have been closer, but i have my doubts that a couple of fouls going the other way in any case would have given Boston a win, when they came out as flat and seemingly uninspired as they did, and when their opponent is knocking down anything that leaves their hand regardless of how difficult.