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Classic Box Score: Down Goes Lebron James and the Cavs

 

No team from the Eastern Conference has taken down LeBron James in the postseason for a couple seasons now. Well, that’s not entirely true. Nazr Mohammed did it on Friday night. From a basketball perspective though, Lebron has reigned supreme in the East since 2010.

With this in mind, and the fact we at CelticsHub have a lengthy offseason for the first time in a long time (we aren’t used to these), we figured what better timing to bring back out the classic box score feature. If you are a longtime CelticsHub reader, you probably remember these. If not, they are pretty self explanatory, just a fun look down Celtics’ memory lane.

And since the Celtics aren’t able to beat Lebron this postseason, let’s turn back the clock to the last time they could, which just happens to be today’s date three years ago, May 13th, 2010.

You guys remember this one? It was the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The entire world (outside of Boston) was picking the Cavs to dispatch the underperforming Celtics rather easily. Yet, with the series tied 2-2, LeBron and his team no-showed Game 5, a 120-88 Celtics rout in Cleveland, setting up a closeout Game 6 at the TD Garden.

You may remember who won that night, but the details were beyond intriguing. Who led the way for the Celtics’ last night? Just how bad was Lebron in Game 6? And what weapon off the Celtics’ bench made the difference?

A few items that stick out to me:

–A pretty stellar line from LeBron but NINE turnovers? Even Paul Pierce couldn’t pull that off against the Knicks.

–Looking at that Cavs roster again makes me wonder why anyone was picking them despite LeBron. A bunch of flawed and/or over-the-hill players

–Sheed showed up for this one! And hit two three’s!

–I’m excited about Rajon Rondo’s return again, after seeing these kinds of lines. 12 assists AND 5 steals with 21 points? Keep him Danny!

–How did Ainge ever let Tony Allen leave for Memphis? That may have been one of the worst mistakes of his tenure and still hurts Boston to this day.

Here’s the full recap from the CelticsHub archives by Brendan Jackson after Game 6:

Unprecedented.  Simply unprecedented.  How does a team give up with a minute to go in an elimination game?  Wasn’t it moments earlier where LeBron James single-handily turned a 10 point lead in to an 4 point lead?

This game had all the makings of LeBron putting a stamp on his legacy.  Instead, he drew flabbergasted looks from Bostonians and Clevelanders alike.  Not that Bostonians doubted that the Celtics could win this series, the looks came from the way they won it.  For Cleveland fans, they are only left with thoughts of LeBron taking off that Cleveland jersey, and potentially never putting it on again.

Just shocking.

The Cavaliers came out incredibly aggressive tonight, but failed to sustain it throughout all four quarters.  Every member of the Cleveland roster seemed to be in a hurry.  One look at the starter’s endgame shooting percentages really tell the story.  LeBron James (8-21), Antawn Jamison (2-10), and Mo Williams (8-18) each wanted to win this game themselves.

The Cavaliers have prided themselves over the past few years about being a tight-knit team.  A team that hangs out together, plans pregame rituals together.  A team that accepted LeBron James’ MVP award together on the same stage.  That team was no where to be found tonight.

The Celtics conceded the rebounding edge tonight in favor of completely dominating the assist and turnover battle.  The Cavaliers committed 22 turnovers to Boston’s 13.  The Cavaliers  managed 17 assists to Boston’s 24.  These numbers are simply evidence to the mismanaged aggression the Cavs played with tonight.  They seemed uncertain with the ball, uncertain with their decision making, and were quick to get down on themselves- whether it be a missed call or a missed shot, they played as if they were handcuffed the entire night.

Despite the “bad game” the Cavaliers had, let’s give credit where credit is due- and it is due to the D.  The Celtics defense was spectacular tonight, forcing the Cavaliers in to turnovers by jumping to pass, or trying to force balls through tight places.  Rajon Rondo was his usual self with controlled spasticity.  The Celtics dictated the pace of this game by Rondo calling for the ball and pushing every Cavalier miss in transition and really making them pay for not getting back on defense.

There were so many great things for Celtics fans to be proud of tonight, but it really started with their ability to exploit the Cavalier miscues.  Mike Brown starts off with Shaquille O’Neal defending Kevin Garnett only to have KG shelve his post up game for his face up game.  Two mid-range jumpers later the experiment was deemed an utter failure.

It didn’t mater who guarded KG tonight, as he consistently went to work, finishing the game with 22 points and 12 boards.  The best part about KG’s stat line is that it only slightly one-upped Rajon Rondo’s.  Rondo finished the game with 21 points and 12 assists while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen could not really find their stroke on the offensive side of the ball.

If someone had told me before the game started that by the end of tonight’s game Ray Allen and Paul Pierce would only have 8 and 13 points respectively, I would have said, “See you in Cleveland.”

This is what separates scorers from basketball players.  Both Pierce and Allen earned their money on the defensive end and through heart and determination.  Saddled with foul trouble, they also earned their money through deferment.  Neither of them got down when they were forced to the bench and replaced with inferior players.  They became cheerleaders for Tony Allen’s continually surprising play.  It is really hard to put a price on energy, and it would behoove the front office to try in the off season.

Let’s finish up with a few bullets:

  • For all their Third Quarter struggles throughout the regular season, the Celtics won the Third Quarter match-up by 7 points and it proved to be the difference tonight.
  • Rasheed Wallace and Paul Pierce, for all their recent struggles, had some timely threes that were nothing short of back-breaking.  For a regular season where the Celtics continually showed their mortality, they had an answer for every near-death blow the Cavaliers could muster.
  • Watching the Celtics on the offensive end can be what heart attacks are made of- but they continue to show that defense is what wins.  The Celtics started the game shooting a shade over 60% but steadily cooled off and finished in the high forties.  How does that translate into a 9 point win?  Defense.  Just imagine what this team could look like if they start clicking offensively.

I am sure I’ve missed a lot but I just need to sit back in bask in the glory of this series.  You should to, while the basking is good anyway.  Orlando on Sunday and the time to focus is soon.  Just not now.

 

  • elroz

    I was under the impression that Tony Allen SORT OF left not just due to the money or contract length issue, but because he felt "limited" by the big three and Rondo..he thought he could and would do more – more minutes, more touches, more scoring?

    Of course I would love to see him back next year (but the C's have no money to spare) as he will be a free agent soon. But with a back court of Rondo, Bradley, T. Williams, and Lee (assuming they will get rid of Terry and Crawford), where would he play? If you let C. Lee go and bring in TA, the offense will be even more limited; you need T. Williams to be groomed as a back-up PG. And who knows if TA will want to come back? The again, a chance to see a back court of TA, Rondo, and Bradley is something that Celtics fans would love. A great defensive back-court helps the front court and creates disruptions.

  • Josh_5

    Oh dear God where do I start?!
    1) Tony Allen's dunk was disgusting
    2) Tony Allen's defense is sorely missed
    3) KG's behind the back and transition dunk was nasty
    4) Rasheed Wallace

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