For all the improvements the Cavs were supposed to have made, in Game 1, the Celtics looked like they had all the answers.
The Celtics lead 54-43 at the half, Rajon Rondo has 19 points and 8 assists, LeBron James looks hurt and the Cavs look lost.
The Cavs worked to get inside position on offense from the get go, but everything would rim out. Shaquille O’Neal wound up in foul trouble, while getting shoved to the middle of the paint by Kendrick Perkins who is proving there is literally no big man he cannot defend one-on-one. James took only two jumpshots in the first half, and while he was able to create off the dribble, get to the rim, and collect free throws, he looks tentative and limited by the strained and bruised elbow.
Antawn Jamison is doing a good job conceptually on Kevin Garnett, maintaining position and getting a hand-up, but Garnett’s simply using his height advantage and getting the buckets to fall. The lone bright spots for the Cavs have been Delonte West and J.J. Hickson, not exactly who you want the game to rest on. Hickson provided a significant boost on offense, but also gave up multiple possessions on defense due to blown assignments.
But Rondo has been the difference maker. Right now, Rajon Rondo is the best player in this series with LeBron injured. If the Cavs can’t buckle down with their help defense and convert inside, the Cavs could be looking at a very familiar situation of being down 0-1 despite homecourt advantage.
And one final note. If you’re looking to locate a pin, feel free to head down to the Q. Because you can hear one drop as the arena is dead silence. Stark contrast to the other crowds we’ve seen in the playoffs.
Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.
First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.
Three quick takeaways here:
1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.
2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.
3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.
(Hat tip reddit)
VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”
That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.
Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:
“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”
Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.
And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.