Boston 76, Cleveland 72

Wow, tough loss. The Cavs shot 30% as a team, LeBron had one of his worst games ever and they only lost by four, in Boston. But it hurts, they got the lead late in the game after a Zydrunas jumper and they got outscored 8-2 to end the game. They definitely had their chances but they couldn’t capitalize.

LeBron was this close to a quadruple double. James finished with 12 points, 9 boards, 9 assists and 10 turnovers. Some of this is a credit to Boston’s defense, they doubled James early and often and made him uncomfortable the entire night. But some of this goes on the coaching staff and the terrible offense. Is James not allowed to post up? Why does he have to receive the ball outside the 3pt line? What happened to the ‘C’ cuts he was doing against the Wizards? The Cavs had extremely little offensive movement and it allowed the Celtics’ defense to clamp down on James. LeBron finished just 2-18 (both shots were layups, including the first basket of the game) though he was 8-10 from the line. James missed two really close shots late that just rimmed out; he probably should’ve gotten a foul called at least once (you know, when James Posey was intentionally fouling) but he usually makes those anyways.

More James. He made a poor decisions at the end of both the first and second quarter. With time running down in the first, he drove and threw it away and it led to a Boston 3 (pushing a 7 point lead to 10). Then at the end of the second quarter he took a blocking foul on Rajon Rondo (who had a really good first half) with 0.2 seconds left, giving Rondo two freebies (he made both to push the lead to 4). That’s 5 free points.

More first half dumbness. I have no idea why the TNT announcers didn’t mention this, but later in the first quarter, Ben Wallace missed a shot and then tipped the rebound out to Boobie. The shot clearly went off the rim, but the shot clock didn’t reset and Gibson was forced to throw up a wild 3. That’s an entire possession taken away for no good reason.

Kevin Garnett played great. I’m not a big KG fan, but he played really well. I liked what the Cavs did for most of the night; they single covered Garnett and allowed him to get his points, but not let anyone else get involved. What I didn’t care for is leaving Joe Smith on an island late in the game. At that point I’d have liked to see a double team, cause KG will probably pass the ball, and the rest of the team hadn’t really shot well. Garnett finished with 28 points, 8 boards and 2 assists.

Z had a magnificent game. He forced a couple shots early, but the Cavs kept going to him and he responded. Z led the Cavaliers with 22 points (8-18 FG) and also had12 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He could’ve definitely gotten more than just 6 free throw attempts (he made ’em all), especially on their last bucket of the first half (he was fouled by 2 guys, come on!). Z made some huge plays down the stretch; he hit a jumper to give the Cavs their last lead and he tipped in a James miss to tie the game at 72 with 39 seconds left.

More on the offense. When James isn’t in the game, why can’t they run plays for Daniel Gibson? This kid is a world class shooter and they have him throwing post passes to Anderson Varjeao (while James is on the bench!). That’s a good use of everyones time. Also, can we see more James-Gibson pick and rolls? It worked once (Boobie got a 3) but they never went back to it. They spent way too much time just holding the ball waiting for guys to get open… only for that guy to throw a post pass to Z. They had a sequence late in the game where they had 3 shot attempts in one possession and came away with zero points. Again, some of this was due to Boston’s D, but only some.

The defense and rebounding were pretty solid. They kept Boston under 80 points and they held the Celtics to just 43% shooting. However, the Cavaliers did lose the rebounding battle 43-41, but they did grab 13 offensive boards. Z had 12 boards while both Ben Wallace and James had 9. I though Wallace did a decent job guarding KG one-on-one, but I would’ve liked to see some better help D, especially in the first half when Rondo was getting to the lane at will (I never know why the Cavs start out going under picks, it always seems to kill them. They always adjust and fix it, but why even start out that way? Fight through picks).

We had a Sasha Pavlovic sighting and it surprisingly wasn’t a train wreck. Pavlovic scored all 7 of his points in the second half. He answered a Posey 3 with one of his own to start the fourth and he later made a 3 point play off of a steal that he initiated. Of course, being Pavlovic, he picked up two really (really really really) weak fouls. Only this time it was on the defensive end; with all the pushing going on, they called Sasha for two touch fouls 18 feet from the rim. This is especially ridiculous when you consider that Kendrick Perkins and KG shove on every pick they set (and Perkins also got some other cheap shots in there). The refs weren’t great, but asides from the Pavlovic fouls, they weren’t overly terrible either.

Wally started poorly, but was actually effective later on. Szczerbiak began the game 0-5 (all within the first six minutes of the quarter) but finished with 13 points and surprisingly decent defense on Ray Allen (who finished scoreless, go Wally!). Szczerbiak was 2-5 from downtown, including a big 3 that stopped a late Boston mini-run and cut their lead to 66-63. He also made a couple of nice plays without scoring, like a go lead pass to Pavlovic and he grabbed a key rebound late.

Paul Pierce is a chucker. If Pierce was trying to match LeBron shot for shot, well, mission accomplished. Pierce was just 2-14 from the field and while LeBron had a couple shots that just rimmed out, Pierce was taking terrible shots all night long.

Sam Cassell had some big moments. Cassell finished with 13 points and he hit the two free throws that put Boston up for good (though I’m 75% sure he flopped to get that call). Sam-I-Am also had a couple of big treys, including one that came off a broken play that really hurt.

Delonte West did his best Larry Hughes impression (though he actually took good shots). I though West did a decent job of handling Boston’s pressure D and he went inside and rebounded well (5 boards and he got a questionable over-the-back call). But the Cavs can’t have their starting point guard go 2-10 (and 0-3 from 3).

and finally…

While I think the Cavs probably should’ve won this game, I’m not overly worried. They aren’t going to shoot 30% every game. James won’t go 2-18 again. He won’t have 10 turnovers again. Mike Brown won’t let the offense look like this again. Wait, scratch that last one. Anyways, I still think the Cavs will win this series, but this game could’ve been freaking huge. If you’re Boston, I could see reason to be encouraged as well (with Pierce only having 2 FG and Ray Allen going scoreless) but I still think the Cavs should come away feeling fairly confident about their chances. And even if they get themselves down 0-2, they’ve been there before (against Detroit the last two years).

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