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Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

 

The Celtics are heading into game 6 tonight, with a chance to close out the Regular Season Champs at TD Garden. Make no mistake, they have done nothing yet, but they are on the threshold of completing one of the most unexpected 2nd round upsets in NBA history.

I can’t help but not notice though, in the past 36 hours, the lack of attention given to the hometown team after their 32 point win. The Celtics likely don’t mind it, in fact they are probably relishing flying under the radar here as the underdogs, as the Cavaliers and LeBron have been dissected under the microscope, thanks to their second home no-show of the series. The more focus and pressure they get on them, the better, right?

Yet, despite all this, I can’t help but be perturbed by the lack of credit given to the Celtics after their big win, in all forms of media yesterday. Instead of asking, how did the Celtics shut down LeBron, it’s been termed everywhere by simply asking what went wrong for the Cavs, as opposed to what went right for the Celtics.

The questions about Cleveland came fast and furious on Wednesday. Is LeBron James still hurt? Is he a choke artist? Does he even care? His lack of aggressiveness stood out Tuesday night like a sore thumb, and people needed to find a reason why.

Lots of questions with very few answers at this point. Yet, there is one simple answer, the masses are overlooking in their hunt to explain LeBron’s struggles. You see, it’s quite simple really. The Boston Celtics have been the best team this series, and likely are the better team overall.

You see, yes LeBron had an off night on Tuesday, but take a look at that box score. Guess what? If LeBron scores 45 in that game, the Cavs STILL lose. The way everyone is acting, you would have guessed that the C’s won a squeaker in which LeBron no showed. Game 5 was a lot like Game 3 actually, just with the team’s roles reversed.

There was no way Boston was going to beat the Cavs in that contest unless everyone played out of their mind. Cleveland played flawlessly, and deserved much of the credit, rather than what’s wrong with Boston? The same goes for Boston in game 5, but a lot of people out there just don’t want to believe it.

Despite the C’s dominating the vast majority of the first five games of this series, still the skeptics remain. The C’s are playing well, but there is or was “no way the Cavs should lose to this Celtic team.” With their aging core, and regular season struggles, no one outside of 495 saw this coming.

Well, I’ll ask everyone about this. If you were starting a playground game, there’s obviously no doubt who would be the number 1 pick overall. However, after that, who would go in the next four spots in choosing teams? Rondo is a definite. Then we have The Big Three. Would you see anyone on the Cleveland roster being selected over any of those three guys after Lebron? I wouldn’t and I’m not being a homer here either.

People also keep playing the age card with The Big Three as well, as a reason the Cavs should be dismissing them. Have those three guys regressed that much since these two teams last matched up? Sure. However, have you taken a look at the Cavs starting lineup? Anthony Parker is 34, Jamison is 33, and Shaq is 37. Then you have Mo Williams who can’t play a lick of defense.

I guess what it comes down to here is the fact that while Cleveland is still a good team, they are a flawed team. They have the best player in this series, but the Celtics have the next best four, yet people still hesitate to declare that Boston has more talent than the Cavs. I saw this before the series started, even when people looked at me like I had three heads. There was too much talent there not to keep the faith.

It may not have always looked like it for the Green team. People wanted to believe they couldn’t just turn on the switch when they wanted to. Yet, it appears Doc Rivers and company were playing possum for the final couple months.

For now though, it’s time to give credit where credit is due. I want to hear more about Tom Thibideadou’s terrific defensive gameplans in holding the Cavs under 90 points 3 times in this series already.

I want to hear about the continued resurgence of Ray Allen who knocked down six treys during game 5m to add to his tremendous postseason resume.

I want to hear about the sustained bench contributions of Tony Allen and Glen Davis, the latter of which carried Boston in the final 12 minutes of game 5, by putting up a quick 12 points.

I want to hear about KG looking as good as he has all year, showing no signs of his knee troubles while averaging 18-6 every game against Cleveland.

I want to hear about The Truth discovering his offensive aggressiveness once again ,while putting together a terrific all around line of 21-11-7 in helping to keep tabs on LeBron all night.

These were the stories that went under the radar Tuesday night. The stories of how, with just one more win, this team that was long left for dead, could be a legitimate Championship contender, once more.

Now that’s a story I want to hear more about, it’s a story that could begin tonight.

  • Rich

    I have no clue how you think the Celtics are underdogs at this point. Pretty much every where I look they are favored by a point if not more.

  • Jason

    That’s nothing. Here http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2010/news/story?page=CavsCelticsG6-100513 most are begrudgingly saying the Cs will probably win the series, some are still holding out delusion hope. But even then, they’ve already passed judgment on the next series, too. Magic in 5 or 6.

    I admit the Magic look good, but c’mon. Last year, no KG, still 7 games. And in fact, the Cs were up 3-2 even after exhausting themselves against the Bulls. Plus Rondo’s taken 10 steps forward in the last 12 months. Nelson? Please, his counterparts (Bibby and such a nobody I don’t know his name) gave him no challenge whatsoever on either end of the floor. Rondo’s a completely different animal. All-NBA defense first team. Triple-double on offense. Please, let’s be realistic about the vast chasm between what Nelson has faced and will face. Lewis is going to have to shoot over 7’0″ and long KG instead of 6’8″ BBD. Vince will shrink as soon as you knock him down once. Perk is Kryptonite.

    Charlotte was an awful offensive team. Atlanta can’t defend the pick and roll at all.

    Guys, how many more times are you going make the same mistake of picking against this team?

  • Sweeney

    ESPN’s take is all LEBRON all the time. It is unfortunate as there are many subplots to the series besides LBJ leaving Cleveland. Though that might be a 30 in 30 series in 10 years. I’ll take the series victory tonight with little fanfare as I want is a shot at Orlando.

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

    This is one I actually disagree with, sort of. I don’t get why fans get so up in arms about what media pundits say.

    I mean, like it or not, LeBron is the big story here because of the implications for his free agency. So who cares if the media chooses to focus on that? And who cares if the media speculates about his health? Because you know what? I bet he is hurt. He said yesterday his elbow needs some off-season treatment. What if he means surgery? That’s a huge story.

    And if he is hurt, that doesn’t take away from anything any remaining team in the post-season accomplishes against the Cavs. Injuries are a part of the game. The absence of KG doesn’t take away from what Orlando accomplished last season.

    Sorry, but if you really think the Celtics are going to be the lead story after a devastating home loss in which LeBron James plays horribly in what might be his last game in Cleveland, you’re mis-judging what the news is.

  • Jason

    I love your pick-up game concept. I was thinking about this actually a few games ago. When someone was blathering about the Emperor’s supporting cast and how it’s now championship caliber, blah, blah, I was struck thinking “After James, the other 4 starting Cavs would be bench players on the Cs.” Mo? please. Jameson? Over KG? Nada. Parker over Pierce or Ray? Don’t think so. Shaq over Perk? Closer, but at this stage, this team needs what Perk offers more than what Shaq brings. Shaq granted would be the perfect replacement for Sheed though as the first big off the bench.

    Point is, 4 of the Cavs starters would be bench players on the Cs. Yet, it’s all about the Emperor. Even educated adults are distracted easily by the flashy toys.

    As a corollary to these ideas and despite what we’ve said about Doc, you have to give credit up and down in this org. Danny for getting the right pieces, the pieces themselves for deferring, buying in and/or developing appropriately, the coaching staff, particularly Doc and Thibs. This really is a team on both sides of the ball. They are almost always playing as a single unit, they are creative, tough, flexible, determined, willing to adjust, etc. This years has been massively frustrating, but really this is a great team to support and watch perform.

  • Jason

    @Zach

    1) The Emperor stroking. Sorry that’s just ridiculous. I know this is a reality-TV, shock world we now live in, but that doesn’t mean I have to accept it. I prefer substantial analysis. It’s why I prefer here to ESPN. It’s a reason you have a niche in the first place.

    2) Pundit opinions. I’m one of the first to say “who cares?” but it’s just getting to me recently and it’s not the bottom line “Cs will lost” but the method that irks me. Actually, it’s typically the lack of method. They’re elementary. Cavs won 60, they have James, case closed. No, there’s more to it. Magic 8-0, case close. Again, no. Not only should they put a little more thought into their “analysis” but how about learning from past mistakes? You picked against them in 2008 most series. You picked against them in this series. When healthy, this current team has not lost a series. EVER. Nope, blindly forge ahead. James, MVP, Cs lose. DPOY, 8-0, Cs loseC’mon this is your livelihood and I put more thought into analysis than you do. I’m getting so sick of it.

  • http://hoopstersworld.blogspot.com miss j.moxie

    “When healthy, this current team has not lost a series. EVER.”

    Please don’t jinx it!

  • Jason

    If only I had such powers.

  • Ian

    Great article, I’ve been preaching this exact same stuff in comments on ESPN all day.

    Celtics have played better basketball in literally every facet of the game this series, yet it’s all LeBron’s fault.

  • http://secureimmaturity.com Will

    Hey guys,

    I’m a Magic fan and I went through what you guys are going through this year last year. You know how much it bugs me to see the Game 2 buzzer-beater of last year’s ECF EVERY FRICKIN’ COMMERCIAL even though, in retrospect, that game winner was a temporary lifesaver for LeBron and co when they utterly collapsed in three of the next four games????

    Anyways, you guys (as in the Celtics) are playing some of the BEST basketball I have ever seen in my short life (I’m 28). Your defense is amazing, your offense is solid, and your team balance is incredible. If (and when, in my opinion) you pull off this series, I guarantee you the highlight reels of LeBron will be of his amazing (I admit it) Game 3 performance against you guys even though, it’s possible, he completely SUNK in the other games.

    Obviously it is too early to say how the series will end BUT, as a Magic fan who might have to play you, I am wary of the formidable play you have shown despite the distractions leading away from your squad. I say take it all in. Last year, no one gave the Magic a shot against Cleveland and they went to the Finals. . .you guys were also given no shot by the so called ‘experts’ at the beginning of this season and the best may yet to come.

    Good luck tonight.

  • RBD

    @Will

    Thanks for the comments. We’ll see you Sunday!

  • http://secureimmaturity.com Will

    @RBD! Yeah! I hope so!

  • Jay P

    @Jason

    “When healthy, this current team has not lost a series. EVER.”

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, KNOCK ON WOOD!

    KNOCK ON WOOD!

  • Dan

    @Brian: If I was picking a team on the playground Perk would go 3. Have you seen how mean that guy looks? Best not to risk him being the odd man out.

  • JP

    Just listening to Bill Simmons podcast, what do you think about this:

    The series changed its makeup based on the Rondo behind the back pass to TA where LeBron was going for the block.

    I think its a legitimate turning point of the series (especially if the C’s win tonight).

  • MP

    We’re getting owned tonight.

  • Jay P

    Reverse psychology, I like it. Gotta counteract the jinx out there already. Good job.

  • Jason

    So which corrupt, NBA-goon referees are we getting tonight? I bet Kennedy AND Bavetta are on the crew. Pierce 3 fouls and the Emperor 15 FTs in just the first quarter.

  • Jason

    By the way, I thought the Game 3 crowd was AWFUL to open the game. We need much more energy than that. I hope they bring it tonight. If it takes Simmons’ chants, so be it.

  • MP

    Monty McCutchen, Bob Delaney, and Eddie F. Rush

  • Jason

    Dear God.

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

    This year’s Boston crowds have mostly been pretty awful–or that’s the way it comes across on the Tee-Vee.

  • Jason

    Sadly, I agree.

  • Sophomore

    TD Garden has become an impossibly expensive seat. Gotta think the most enthusiastic, loudest fans are mostly priced out.

  • Paul

    Great post. I am a New Yorker, born and raised, and a life-long Knick fan. Even before this season, or even the 2008 season I heard the rumblings of LeBron to the Knicks, his awful treatment of Cleveland fans what with the teasing of “July 1st will be a big day haha” and his Yankees hats…I just want to say that I don’t care how much money our GM of the Knicks has been able to save or prepare for this years Free Agency, I’d much rather take ANY member of the Celtics starting 5 over LeBron. His selfishness and entitlement knows no bounds, and with showering praise given unto him by the NY elite (sigh…I love NY but sometimes…ugh) he’ll stop at nothing to become his own self proclaimed “Billionaire Global Icon”

    I want to thank the Boston Celtics (I thought I’d never say that) for showing (I hope) alot of Knicks fans what we are in for if we shell out for this guy.

  • rondo-is-love

    Yeah, the TD Garden crowd (on TV, anyway) has been pretty quiet all season.

    Just out of curiosity… let’s just say LeBron stays in Cleveland. Who else thinks they’re gonna try to pick up a better point guard to match up to the likes of Rose and Rondo like they picked up Shaq to match up with Dwight? Who are the best point guards in free agency anyway?

  • rondo-is-love

    Oh, and I almost forgot my point. In reference to this particular piece, I certainly can’t say I disagree. I read through so many recaps, blogs, etc. trying to find someone who gave the Celtics credit for Game 5, but came up empty-handed.

    I mean… who COULDN’T see the fire, the focus, the determination in their eyes? Cleveland also had it in their eyes for what felt like a majority of the first half, but it’s true, I think LeBron’s lack of energy kinda killed it for them.

  • Jay P

    @rondo-is-love

    Their aren’t any, really. Unless you consider Wade a PG.

    Sign and trade for John Wall maybe? Bout your only chance, but that aint happening. And besides, you can’t expect any rookie (even Wall) to be a first year impact player on that team.

    There’s really nothing in FA that jumps out at you. I’d say probably the best PG next year, unrestricted or not, is Derek Fisher or Rafar Alston… so ya, that’s telling you how deep next years FA Market will be for Point guards.

  • Paul

    Agreed. Glen Davis played an amazing game, as did KG (he looked like KG of 2008!) Pierce was more aggressive than anyone on the court, and Ray Allen was lights out. I know Orlando can stretch the floor, but Jeez, when Ray Pierce and KG are on like this…I don’t know if they can be stopped. And I didn’t even mention Rondo at this point.

  • Jason

    This one http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1129 just recently posted and I think it’s got a proper perspective both in giving the Cs credit and also in not completely murdering the Emperor.

  • Jay P

    @Jason

    Great article, thanks for the link.

  • Jason

    Chomping at the bit here, so against my better judgment I checked out Daily Dime Live. I shouldn’t have.

    Hollinger finishes and Sheridan comes in. He fields 10 straight questions about the Emperor, plus picks the Magic to finish off the Cs easily. Get real.

  • DRJ1

    At the risk of repeating myself– I’m VERY HAPPY anytime I see the Celtics disrespected by the media. I don’t want it to stop, EVER… until… say… Game 5 of the Finals? The Celtics love it, and they do shine their brightest when everyone thinks they’re lights are out.

    Think about it… which would you rather be? The favorite? Or the underdog? So far as these Cs are concerned, the answer is obvious.

  • Chris O

    In a playground game it goes like this

    1 LeBron

    2 Rondo

    3 Garnett

    4 Pierce

    5 Ray

    And I have been saying this since 2008…they have #1 we have #’s 2-5. Only difference is Rondo got bumped WAY up.

  • Jason

    2-6 actually. I’d take Perk over any of the other 4 Cavs starters.

  • Chris O

    O yes and BTW if you read my posts on this website I have clearly said a few things in this article before so I agree 100%. We have always had the 2-5, and we are actually almost the same age teamwise when you do average age of players (Jamison, Ilgauskas, Parker, Shaq…and they R young and athletic???).

  • Chris O

    Jason says:
    May 13, 2010 at 5:38 pm
    2-6 actually. I’d take Perk over any of the other 4 Cavs starters.
    __________
    Haha nice, that one’s debatable for me but I do love me some Beast!

  • Chris O

    BTW weren’t we supposed to lost to Detroit and the Lakers in ’08 according to most of the ‘media’

  • Roger

    Interesting analysis of the fact the Celtics are a better team than the Cavs.

    #6 would most definitely be Jamison though, and then the rest really could be argued.

    As a Magic fan, I’m seriously hoping the Cavs pull it out, because I feel like we have the same advantage against them that you do. A Magic-Celtics series would be much much tougher. A similar player analysis for Magic-Celtics would be very interesting though in terms of where each player would rank. I’m not sure where I’d rank everyone myself.

    Probably start with Howard, Rondo, Nelson, Garnett, and then go from there.

  • Jason

    Jamison 6? A few years ago maybe. Not this year.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Brian Robb

    Hey guys, thanks for the comments. A couple things

    @ Jason

    I’ve been at past 15 home games and the Garden hasn’t been great. Not terrible but definitely a mediocre, late arriving crowd for most part. With 8pm start and everyone smelling blood, that should change.

    As for the point of this article, I understand that LeBron is the bigger story here, but that still doesn’t mean I have to like it. In my estimation, due to the LeBron obsession, they are missing a clear bigger point of this series. The C’s are simply been than the Cavs. Plain and simple.

    Like I said, I don’t think the C’s mind that at all, but as a C’s fans it bothers….disappoints me?

  • http://secureimmaturity.com Will

    This Magic fan is NOT writing the Celtics off at all. That series (and I pray it happens) would be a slug-fest, likely six or seven games without a clear winner.

  • Chris O

    Is it bad that I am basically twitching on how AWESOME I think this game is gonna be.

  • snoopy

    as a boston homer, you probably would have picked the celtics before the series no matter what. even a broken clock is right 2x a day. but i guess that’s better than the rest of your fan base?

    a month ago, all you bandwagon fans were crying about how the celtics sucked so bad and how you wanted to slit your wrists. now that they’re winning, you guys are back to creaming your shorts over beetlejuice n’ crew

  • Chris O

    @snoopy….UMMM actually guy read my posts on here. And I am not a homer, just honest. I didn’t Parade around in ’07 thinking we were gonna win a title. But in ’08 I bet over $500 on the Celtics and won them all. My first was $100 on 57+ wins. My second was $100 on the fact the C’s would face Detriot in the conference finals. My third was $100 that we would win the Championship and then I made tons of mini bets. I also thought we would win it last year before the Garnett injury…but yea we are all just Homers, Who ‘LOVE WALTA’ and think we r gonna win everyyear or just bandwagon…that’s it.

  • GB09

    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rav

    @ Rondo is love

    Probably Raymond Felton

  • Kenn

    The one thing I have not seen on these posts is the contribution TA made this postseason. His stifling D and attacking the basket were paramount to us winning this series. We didn’t have that TA last year and should help our perimeter D in this series.

    The guy that worries me is the most is Rashard Lewis. He seems to kill us like the second coming of Andrew Toney. I would almost want to see PP on Vinsanity and Ray on Matt Barnes, with a more youthful looking KG on Lewis . However it is done, I think TA is going to absolutely key this series also. I hope Doc doesn’t do a 180 and sit him, he is playing the best TA basketball since those days he was starting just prior to that (sigh) dunk that blew out his knee a few years ago.

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