Tag: Boston Cleveland

LeBron James talks about his future, vaguely


Plenty of post-game questions to LeBron James were about his future plans, and he dodged them with artful skill, but did say they will consider options.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce got to answer LeBron questions too, while Mike Brown got to answer Mike Brown questions.


NBA Playoffs, Cavs v. Celtics Game 6: Shaq identifies the elephant in the room, but that doesn't make it disappear

Leave a comment

rondo cavs layup.pngLeBron James blew it big time on Tuesday, and tonight will be his chance to redeem himself. That wasn’t the only storyline from Game 5 though, as the Cavs struggled in just about every way possible to keep pace with an awfully impressive Celtics team. The problem with James’ particularly woeful performance was that in the scramble to figure out what went wrong with LeBron, some of the other poor aspects of the Cavaliers’ play went unscrutinized.

Could LeBron have played better in such a significant game? Of course. But as J.E. Skeets of the Basketball Jones wisely put it, James could have played a great game and still lost to Boston. The Celtics were just too effective against a revered Cavaliers defense. That includes LeBron, who looked as passive and disinterested on the defensive end as he did on the offensive end, but it extends to each and every Cav that hit the floor in Game 5.

Shaquille O’Neal, to his credit, seems to understand that although LeBron’s performance certainly didn’t help Cleveland’s cause on Tuesday, the Cavs’ bigger problems are on the defensive end. From Ken Berger of CBS Sports:

Though much of the focus has been on LeBron’s 3-for-14 shooting night
— his third sub-par offensive performance in the series — Shaq
remained focused on the aspect of the game that has put the Cavs in the
hole they’re in.

“Our problem is not offense,” Shaq said. “Our
problem is, you can’t let guys get historical triple-doubles and you
can’t let five guys get into double figures. So our problem is not

I wouldn’t say Shaq is completely right. O’Neal may have played pretty well offensively in Game 5 (21 points on 11 shots), but the team as a whole performed well below the norm. Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison combined for 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting with five turnovers, which isn’t quite what the Cavs need on one of LeBron’s off-nights, even if no one but James is to blame for his own performance. As a result, the Cavs scored at a rate of 95.7 points per 100 possessions in Game 5, a far cry from their 108.8 mark in the regular season.

The more pressing issues, as Shaq notes, are on the defensive end. The previously strong Cavs defense has broken down against not only match-up problems like Rajon Rondo, but even the aging and limited Kevin Garnett. KG isn’t supposed to be the scorer that he was five years ago, but with Antawn Jamison failing to provide any defensive pressure on Garnett, he’s averaging 18.2 points per game on 50.6% shooting in this series.

Limiting Garnett could be as simple as matching him up with Anderson Varejao rather than Jamison, which would be an offensive concession but a defensive boon. However, Mike Brown and his staff will have to be pretty creative in their
defensive adjustments for Game 6. The Cavs’ guards — be it Anthony Parker, Delonte West, or the defense-less Mo Williams — have all failed to hamper Rondo’s ability to get into the lane. The impact of that isn’t just Rondo’s 20.6 points per game in this series, but also his 11.8 assists, as Rajon’s penetration is opening up all kinds of opportunities for his teammates.

It’s one thing to acknowledge the problem, and another to solve it. Garnett’s offense may not be that difficult to counter, but the Cavaliers are going to have a rough Game 6 if they can’t at least make Rondo’s job difficult. LeBron will have to show up for Cleveland to stay alive, but so will the Cavs’ defense.   

Understanding the intricacies of LeBron's Game 5 letdown


lebron celtics game 5.pngLeBron James had a rough Tuesday night. He shot 3-of-14 from the field as his team struggled to escape from under the heel of the Boston Celtics. Cleveland lost by 32 points on their home court, and when that happens to the best team in the league (record-wise, at least) boasting the best player in the league, the people will demand answers.

How could this happen? And why?

The how part is slightly easier to figure out, as behind LeBron’s very poor performance was a team of highly-paid bystanders. James had an off-night in terms of execution, focus, and effort, but this team is theoretically constructed to withstand that. In fact, plenty of players are being compensated very well to ensure that this very thing doesn’t happen. The acquisitions of Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison were supposed to make this situation avoidable, yet when James turned in a sub-par game on the Cavs home court, those teammates — which were rumored to be a championship-level cast — vanished as well.

For further analysis on that topic, I’ll defer to FanHouse’s Tom Ziller:

Completely putting the blame on LeBron here…masks very real issues. The Celtics play absurdly good defense and match up particularly well against James. Williams can’t guard a single person on the Boston roster. Jamison, O’Neal, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas still aren’t comfortable with each other on offense or defense, and the Celtics’ scorers are hitting some tough shots in this series. It’s not like LeBron is shooting 3-14 against folding chairs. Boston had the league’s No. 5 defense this season, despite a year filled with injuries to key cogs. And with so few Cavaliers scoring with any efficiency, the Celtics have been able to send two good defenders at LeBron as soon as he makes his move. (Despite that, James had 12 free throws and seven assists Tuesday.)

On one hand, it’s tough to entirely blame those, like Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who set out to crucify James after they witnessed him make frequent defensive mistakes, float on the offensive end, and hoist his fair share of errant jumpers. He’s the best player in the sport, and he’s supposed to play accordingly in the playoffs.

Ziller notes that LeBron’s Game 5 isn’t as simple as many media reactions indicate, and he’s right; to deny the significance of Boston’s defensive brilliance and the futility of James’ teammates is to ignore a crucial part of the story here.

The Celtics are no slouches on the defensive end, and while their first round series against the Heat may not have provided the best example given Miami’s limited offense, the enduring effectiveness of Boston’s D over the course of the regular season is beyond commendable. There was no question they were going to turn basketball from play into work for LeBron, and they’ve done just that.

Ultimately, the best way to properly address James’ night may be to show rather than tell. Kevin Arnovitz did just that over at TrueHoop. Others could watch that very video and see  justification for their verbal lashings of LeBron, the pariah, but I see a guy that’s just completely out of sync. His passes were off to an irregular degree, his shooting troublesome, and his focus waning. It’s easy to maintain that focus when your team is in control of the game, but with neither the Cavs or LeBron clicking, he floated.

It happens. He deserves to be criticized for it, just not drawn and quartered. Being the best in the world doesn’t remove the possibility of having a bad game — mentally as well as physically — at an inopportune time, and that’s what we all witnessed last night.


Knicks fans only hope: Become Celtics fans for a night


Thumbnail image for LeBron_game4.jpgIntellectually, Knicks fans know LeBron James is not leaving Cleveland to help rebuild New York. He just applied to change his number next year — something he only needed to do if he stayed in Cleveland. New Yorkers’ heads tell them all hope is lost, despite the fact the Knicks hired a full time guy whose job is to recruit LeBron. Seriously. It still won’t be enough.

But in their hearts, they cannot fully give up hope. The flame may be small, but it is not out. Maybe, just maybe there is a way.

The one chance they have is for Boston to beat Cleveland — tonight and in game six. (Celtics fans don’t really want to risk a game seven in Cleveland). Our own John Krolik explains at Cavs the Blog:

(If the Celtics win the series) There is a high likelihood that LeBron James will leave. Not only has the team had trouble winning any game that LeBron did not dominate, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a core in place at the current moment. Shaq and Antawn Jamison aren’t getting any younger. Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao, and J.J. Hickson are the supposed under-30 “core,” and they certainly haven’t been setting the world on fire. LeBron will take a long, hard look at a team that can potentially provide him with a true running mate or running mates, as well as a fresh start. As always, I have no idea if LeBron’s already made up his mind one way or another. But you have to imagine losing this series will influence his decision.

Frankly, LeBron has to see that the core in Cleveland has problems even if he stays. Credit the Cavs for spending and doing whatever they could to show LeBron they wanted to win, but this current lineup’s window is very small.

Knicks fans only hope is that the Celtics close it all together. Then LeBron reassess his options and decides “If I’m going to play for a crappy team anyway I might as well do that in New York.”

It’s a long shot, but that’s all Knicks fans have left. That little flicker of hope still in their hearts still burns.

Rajon Rondo avoids being another LeBron James highlight, makes his own

Leave a comment

In the first game of the season, way back in October, Rajon Rondo had what looked like a breakaway layup, but instead it became a highlight chasedown block by LeBron James, who caught up with him and swatted it off the backboard.

Fool me once…

In the same situation in Game 4 Sunday, Rondo made the pretty assist instead. Just one part of a highlight day for him.