Tag: Celtics Cavs

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 Celtics Cavs Game 5: Celtics dominate as LeBron James fails in the big time


James_Oneal.jpgIf it’s true that the sports Gods hate the city of Cleveland, Ohio, tonight was an especially delectable act of maliciousness by the deities.

The Boston Celtics walked into Cleveland, dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers outside, and executed them as if they were a lottery team, 120-88.

LeBron James had 15 points on only 3 of 14 shooting, in what many will consider the worst single performance by an elite player in playoff history. James was defended, well, no doubt. The Celtics had plans for simply everything the Cavaliers tried to do. But James also simply missed everything. He was timid, constantly deferring in the first quarter, which set him up to be simply frozen. It was a rather pathetic performance from the MVP of the league, there’s just no way around it.

Meanwhile, this Celtics team looked very much like the championship team from 2008, simply unstoppable from every angle. They cut off every penetration angle, had huge performances from Ray Allen (25 points), and in the second half, Rajon Rondo (16 points, 7 assists), and the bench showed up as well. But Paul Pierce was the story, finally coming out of his slump to draw 21 points.

For Cleveland, the reality sets in that this may have been the last time Cavs fans see LeBron James in a Cavaliers uniform. This wretched performance may be the last time they see James as a member of their team, especially as the rest of the squad Danny Ferry assembled to support James consistently failed at every angle. Mo Williams could not light it up like he did in Game 1, and his defense on Ray Allen was simply laughable. Antawn Jamison was not the Rashard Lewis type stretch four they hoped. And Shaquille O’Neal had 21points, on 11 shots. They forced the ball to the old big guy time and time again, apparently thinking he was the way to salvation.

The Cavs went away from everything that has produced wins for them against Boston this season. Running and gunning? The Cavs walked their way into offensive sets watching the clock hit sometimes 10 seconds before executing.They habitually allowed Boston’s defense to set. And on their side of defense, the Cavs simply failed to defend anything. Glen Davis hit open jumpers. Rajon Rondo had his long-range game going, making him essentially unstoppable. And Pierce had everything working. The Celtics are hard to stop when all that is going, even when your best player, the best player, isn’t having himself the worst night of his playoff career.

Cleveland allowed a 130 efficiency for the Celtics, and mustered up only a 95 efficiency of their own. That’s an amazing differential in a home playoff game. In a bad way.

There will be questions about whether James “pouted” in this game because he was not allowed to guard Rajon Rondo. There will be questions about if James will ever be seen in a Cavs jersey again. There will be questions about curses and bad luck and LeBron’s legacy.

But the one thing there will be no question about is that the Cavaliers, as a team and as a franchise, now face oblivion in a Game 6 in Boston.