Tag: Celtics Cavs Game 6

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 Cavs Celtics Game 6: Celtics overwhelm meek Cavs to advance to Eastern Finals


Pierce_celebrate.jpgAnd so it ends. The number one seed in the East. The number one seed in the NBA. The title favorite, again. The MVP. Cleveland’s best chance for redemption.

Swept away in a green tidal wave of Celtic pride.

The Boston Celtics out-executed the Cleveland Cavaliers 94-85 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals because of two things. Super execution by the Boston Celtics, and another mortal game by LeBron James. This is assuming you’ve figured out that yet again, the Cleveland support system failed as they have every year at some point in the playoffs since James’ arrival in Cleveland.

Boston’s execution in the late third and early fourth quarter was simply superb. Rajon Rondo was relentless, and the Celtics took advantage of every matchup they were favored in. Kevin Garnett continuously nailed tough, defended shots by Antawn Jamison using his superior length. They were fierce, displaying the tenacity of a champion. Hold, I’m going to throw up from how cliche that is.


But there’s no getting around it. The Celtics really, honestly, did want this more. They fought till the very end, for every rebound, for every loose ball, and played their typical fierce brand of defense. They were superior from every angle on that side of the ball, forcing 22 Cavalier turnovers, including 9 from LeBron James.

And oh, LeBron James.

Was it a better game than Game 5? Undoubtedly. 27 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, which sounds like a monster game. The effort was there. But 8-21 won’t get it done. Repeatedly dribbling around the perimeter only to dump the pass off to Mo Williams (who we can and will write volumes about in terms of failure disguised as average play), or trying to run the pick and roll with Anderson Varejao instead of forcing the issue? Won’t get it done.

Don’t be surprised if there’s an announcement about James’ elbow and a surgery in Cleveland in the next week or so. This isn’t an excuse. He stepped out on the floor and for that he deserves to have his play criticized. He failed to deliver as the best player on the floor, and even if he was dealing with a significant injury, which it certainly seems like it was, if you can suit up, you deal with the consequences.

And the consequences are severe.

Mike Brown may lose his job. Shaquille O’Neal may switch teams. LeBron James may never play another game as a Cleveland Cavalier again. Antawn Jamison will now have the rest of his career compared to Amar’e Stoudemire.

But that’s for later.

Right now? It’s Kevin Garnett and his 18 footer. Paul Pierce making a handful of plays when it was needed. Rajon Rondo asserting himself as the arguable best point guard in the league. Tony Allen emerging as a legitimate sixth man. And the Boston Celtics, riding high once more, off to face the Orlando Magic in a dogfight.

If they keep playing like this, big dog will eat.

Boston visits Orlando for Game 1 Sunday.

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

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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.   

NBA Playoffs, Celtics Cavaliers Game 6: This is must win for the Celtics, too


celtics.jpgBoston wants no part of a Game 7.

By the letter of the rules, Game 6 is only a must win for Cleveland. They lose, they go home. Boston loses and there is a Game 7 back in Cleveland.

Except home teams win 80 percent of game sevens — 84-21 in NBA history.

Those are bad odds for Celtics backers. Especially when Cleveland would suit up the best player on the planet, a guy capable of winning the game almost on his own.

Kevin Garnett gets it. Walking off the court after Game 5 he was stopped for a television interview and his first words were, “We cannot come back here.” To Cleveland. If they do, well, climbing Everest may be easier.

Right now the Celtics have all the momentum, they are coming onto their home court where the fans have been working on chants, their big stars have stepped up while people are questioning the Cavaliers will to win (although the Cavs themselves are not).

That’s a lot of things going for you. Lose game six and they will have none of them.

Game 7 will be on the Cavs terms. Cleveland will have the home court. The Cavs will also have LeBron James — and while you may think he folded in Game 5 because of the pressure, do you want to bet on a repeat performance?

Glen Davis does not, as he told WEEI.

“That’s the way we have to have it,” said Glen Davis following practice on Wednesday. “We got to look at it  – Game 7. This is the last game. We gotta finish it, gotta close it out. He [Garnett] is right. We have to make sure that we go into the game like it’s our last.”

Boston has won twice in this series in Cleveland, but a third win may be asking too much. LeBron is capable of just taking over any game, Shaq or Mo Williams could step up for a game and provide a second option. Boston can’t risk that happening in Game 7.

Tonight is must win for Boston, too.

Quote of the day, Lebron is still plenty confident

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“They got me.”

–LeBron James, on why Cleveland fans should feel confident about Game 6 in Boston Thursday. (via the Washington Post’s Michael Lee and his twitter account)