Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers. Game two in front of a sold out crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena. And a pregame presentation of the Most Valuable Player award to the greatest player in the world.
Now can somebody explain to me exactly what it is that is keeping the Cavaliers from bringing everything they have for 48 minutes?
Yes, LeBron may be a little hurt – but he wasn’t too hurt to blast Boston for 35 two days ago. Yes, Shaq is coming off of an injury – but how much conditioning do you really need to put the ball through a cylinder that is ten feet off the ground when you just so happen to be more than seven feet tall? Sure, I’ll even give you the fact that any and every Cavalier guard is completely overmatched by the quickness of Rajon Rondo. But to enter a playoff contest against a conference rival with very little energy is unacceptable. The players know it; the coaches know it; and, by golly, the fans know it. So why does it keep happening?!
I’m not even going to go into individual statistics tonight because, quite frankly, it really does not matter. The stat line tonight should look more like this:
LeBron James – showed up in the fourth quarter
Antawn Jamison – half way decent offense but awful defense against Kevin Garnett
Shaquille O’Neal – should have stayed home
Anthony Parker – didn’t do a whole lot wrong per say, but sure as heck didn’t do much right either
Mo Williams – reverted to last year’s playoff form
Delonte West – very little influence on the game on either end of the floor
JJ Hickson – active on offense but, like Jamison, awful on defense
(I’m purposely leaving out Anderson Varejao because he was the one person in white that showed up with a little bit of energy on Monday night)
There’s your stat sheet. Now let’s move on to the reason(s) Cleveland had themselves in good position to claim the worst loss in playoff history (23) throughout much of the third quarter.
–While the Celtics settled for jump shots (granted, they hit everything they threw up during one stretch in the third quarter), the Cavaliers did an excellent job getting to the basket. And, in turn, got themselves to the free throw line 38 times in comparison with Boston’s 18 trips to the charity stripe. Now I certainly do not claim to be such a great shooter/basketball player that I would even be a mediocre player on their practice squad but, really, how difficult is it to hit a free throw? It continues to blow my mind how professional players can miss 12 free throws in one game. But the Cavaliers seem to do it all the time. And we’ve said it all season – it is going to come back to bite them in the south end.
Humor me for a minute and let’s just assume that the Cavaliers make 31 of their 38 free throws. 81.5 percent isn’t too much to ask for in my opinion (the Celtics shot 83%).
–Between LeBron James, Antawn Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal and Mo Williams, the Cavaliers should have a pretty darn potent four man scoring attack. Take out LeBron and the next three managed a miserable 31 point effort. Let’s put that into perspective and say a particularly weak Celtics bench put up 27 points – and that came from three guys as well. Take out Antawn Jamison’s sub-par performance and the Shaq-Mo combo recorded an even more miserable 26% shooting average. Those two guys need to step it up if the Cavs are going to have any shot at winning this series. I said the other day that Cleveland is a solid 15 points better than the Celtics when they play with a little fire. And they lost by 18. That’s nothing but a complete lack of focus – unacceptable.
Again, humor me and let’s assume Mo puts in 12 (still significantly lower than his 16.3 playoff average) while Shaq tosses in one more bucket (not asking too much for a Hall of Fame center to toss in 11 in a playoff game).
Cavaliers + 10
–Cleveland finished the season with the second best three-point shooting percentage in the league. LeBron gets to the pain and kicks it out to wide open shooter who knocks down the shot. That’s how it works, right? 4-for-21 from beyond the arc is just not going to get it done when you have the array of shooters the Cleveland has on the perimeter. If they’re going to throw up 21 long range attempts per game, I expect them to knock down at least eight. Say Mo hits two of those (making him 2-of-4).
Now do the match and we get +21 (giving us a final score of 107-104) for being nothing better than average. And they should be average if they’d simply show a little enthusiasm out there.
Obviously those examples mean very little considering that the Cavs have to do it. I can talk about it all night and into tomorrow but I’m not the one that plays the game. I’m just the guy that sits back and gets real ticked off when I see a group of guys who aren’t playing with any heart – not respecting the game.
Alright, that’s enough of my rant. It’s still extremely early in the series and, at the end of the day, it’s still tied 1-1. There’s a lot of basketball left to play. And after listening to Mike Brown speak during his press conference, I don’t believe there’s a shot in [you know what] the Cavaliers won’t show up ready to play for game three in Beantown.
*And, as a side note, was it just me or was the officiating awful on Monday night. Certainly not the reason Cleveland lost because it was poorly officiated both ways. But still ridiculous nonetheless. I never did like Bavetta and I’m starting to really dislike Crawford as well.
**I’ll post Mike Brown’s press conference up here ASAP on Tuesday because it was a totally different Mike Brown than I have ever seen – the man was irate. And rightfully so.
Tags: Anderson Varejao Antawn Jamison Anthony Parker Boston Cavaliers Cavs Celtics Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers Delonte West Game 2 KJG Lebron Lebron James Mike Brown Mo Williams MVP NBA Recap Shaq Shaquille O'neal