Tag: Cavaliers Celtics

NBA Playoffs, Celtics Cavaliers Game 6: Kevin Garnett can still beat you


Garnett_dunk.jpgAt the trading deadline, Cavailers General Manager Danny Ferry was thinking about the Magic. As John Krolik explained long before tip off, Antwan Jamison was brought in to counter Rashard Lewis.

Nobody thought about Kevin Garnett.

For six games — and particularly in Game 6 — Garnett completely outplayed Jamison, and that was one of the keys to the series.

Thursday night, Garnett started out 5 of 5 from the floor, hitting his jumper over the top of Jamison’s outsreached arms. He got the ball where he wanted it, for example going 3 for 4 from the left mid-block area. He was hitting from everywhere, 6 of 10 outside 10 feet and 5 of 9 inside close to the rim. In the last four games of this series he shot 60 percent

Garnett was not quite his 2008 dominating self, particularly on defense — but he was close. He certainly was talking like it, barking like Garnett does. His knee may hold him back some still, but the longer rest between games in the playoffs seems to help him, he looks much more fresh than during the grind of the regular season.

Jamison had no answers. He was 2 of 10 shooting for five points and five rebounds, The man that came from Washington at the trading deadline was simply outmatched. Not physical enough inside, not quick enough, not tall enough.

That’s not all on Jamison, he is not what he was, and this is a tough match up for him. Some of that may fall on Danny Ferry.

As Mike Prada at SBNation reminded us, back at the trade deadline Amare Stoudemire to Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson was the hot rumor. It was talked about for a week and was considered pretty much a done deal.

Until the Cavaliers traded instead for Jamison.

Why? We’ll never really know. Deals fall apart for a million reasons. But as Prada points out, the very well connected Marc Stein of ESPN said the reason is the Cavaliers did not want to give up the promising young Hickson in the trade. For Jamison, it was more straight up. At the time, the Cavaliers brass all said they thought Jamison “fit” better than Stoudemire.

Bet they don’t think that now. And Garnett is happy they made the decision they did.

NBA Playoffs: Ray Allen steadily increasing his free agent value


Let’s keep it simple, for starters: Ray Allen is old. Soon to be 35-years-old, in fact. That means that when Allen enters free agency this summer, a number of teams will see him as a bit too much the elder statesman to be part of their rebuilding projects, and a few quasi-contenders may also take a pass to avoid inking an aging shooting guard to a long-term contract.

It’s hard to dispute the fact that there are plenty of iffy fits for Allen in terms of his age and ability at this point in his career. Yet with each sweet-shooting performance for the Celtics in this year’s playoffs, he comes one step closer to making bank with a team looking to provide perimeter scoring.

Ray is having his best postseason run as a Celtic, and he’s currently averaging Boston career highs in true shooting percentage (62.1%) and PER (16.1). He may turn 35 this summer, but Allen certainly isn’t playing like it. Right now, that’s translating into wins, as Boston is 5-0 in playoff games this year in which Allen scores 20+ points. But later, it’ll be translating into dollars, as Ray’s value in this series will undoubtedly earn him a few extra dollars on the deal he inks this summer. Here’s Doug Smith of the Toronto Star on the subject:

It can also be said – and will be said – that Boston’s Ray Allen has
made himself a whack of money with his oft-overwhelming performance in
these playoffs; a free agent to be who may now find many teams
clamouring to throw cash his way in July.

Allen has been outstanding at times – like in his five
three-point gem on Tuesday night – and you could make the case that
he’s the difference in the Celtics. When he’s making tough, contested
shots, they win. Anyway, he’s also without a contract at the end of this season
I guarantee you there are GMs out there salivating at the chance to
make him an offer.

Yes, he’ll be 35 when next season rolls around and, yes, he’s not the greatest of defenders in the history of the game. But, man, can he shoot and it would not surprise me in the least
if some team didn’t offer him a three-year deal at the mid-level
exception (maybe with the third year non-guaranteed) because there is
an awful lot of value left in those old bones.

Considering the generally poor returns on midlevel deals, Smith’s notion that Allen could be had for three years at the midlevel would be a pretty decent bang for a team’s buck. It’s tough to predict exactly how good Allen will be when nearing 38 (especially on the defensive end), but it’s worth noting that Reggie Miller, the most organic comparison for Allen, was still a capable player at 39.

It seems unlikely that Ray will be in Boston next season as the Celtics look to retool for a run at a later date, though there’s always a possibility that an extended postseason sprint this season could keep the band together for another tour. Should Allen leave, there are a number of contending teams that could vie for his services, particularly if he’s available for the MLE.

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.


NBA Playoffs Cavs Celtics Game 4: The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning


Look, there’s two ways this can go. If the Cavs come out and blow doors off hinges and win this game, the series is essentially over. Boston’s veteran crew knows better than to waste valuable vacation days, no matter what cliches they throw out about taking it one game at a time. or, Boston can respond, do what they should have done in Game 3, take care of business at home, and restart this series into a best of three.

And really, at this point, would either surprise you?

We’re probably due for a close one, but so far it seems like if one team takes control, the other team sits back, puts its feet up, and chills out.

For the Cavaliers, you can only hope for a game like Game 3. James was in another universe, able to knock down everything. If he’s in that zone, the Celtics will have very little response. That’s what happens with the best player in the NBA. But there are other adjustments you can make.

For starters, The Celtics have to be more aware of Antawn Jamison off the cut. He did significant damage in Game 3, curling off screens for floaters and jumpers. Getting him in open space makes him a significantly better weapon than he’s been in ISO. The Celtics need to trap or at least switch to make sure there’s someone with Jamison to prevent the entry pass.

Offensively, get back to what worked. Rajon Rondo is a revelation. But he’s still not a great jump shooter. In Game 3, the Cavaliers forced him to go to his mid-range game, and that’s a recipe for disaster. His mid-range and three-point shooting has improved, but it isn’t reliable by any means. The C’s need to use the pick and roll to get Rondo attacking the basket, not settling. If the Cavs double on the screen, Rondo has to initiate the perimeter rotation to open up the three point shooting. Simply settling will not work.

And finally, Paul Pierce has to get going. He’s been simply dreadful, and what’s worse, the worse he shoots, the more he shoots. He’s got to respond today by being a leader, getting his elbow jumper going, and creating his own shot. The Celtics can’t live with an offensive disaster from Pierce again.

The Cavaliers need to keep Anthony Parker on Rondo, whose length kept Rondo in check, and use Delonte West to give them a change of pace guard.

Expect this one to get ugly.These two have been on the brink for a while. I’d expect a couple more hard fouls to get tempers flaring. Should be entertaining, in the least. Has to be more competitive than the last game, right?