NBA Roundtable

Game Six: Boston vs Cleveland

In 2010 NBA Playoffs, Game Log / Recap on May 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Early First Quarter

It is absolutely sickening to watch the first six minutes of this game.

  • Kevin Garnett is destroying the Cavs. There is no way that Shaquille O’Neal can hedge out on the ball-handler and get then get back and contest KG’s shot. Someone is getting either (a) a wide open path to the rim (b) a wide open jump shot off the dribble (c) a pick and pop or pick and roll to Garnett for an easy shot attempt (d) drive and kick to a shooter for an open look
  • Mo Williams is still on Ray Allen. It is going to be extremely difficult for the Cavs to beat the Celtics with Ray Allen torching them.
  • Parker is still on Rondo
  • Jamison is playing absolutely horrific defense on the pick and roll.

Cleveland are in terrible shape and Mike Brown remains totally clueless.

Late First Quarter

Mike Brown brought in Varejao, West and later Moon and Big Z. That was a solid lineup (better if Big Z wasn’t there but solid overall) there with LeBron and they started to play some decent basketball.

The Celtics are stuttering right now. Rondo’s nerves have gotten the better of him early on and he has made some bad decisions. Weak long passes, cross court passes. Jumping before passing the ball with no clear passing lane. A charging violation on dribble penetration. Turnovers. Out of control. Rondo’s poor decisions have gotten the Celtics out of rhythm offensively.

Early Second Quarter

  • Cleveland should not be using Delonte West to create their offense. Not against TA. That is a low percentage possession for the Cavs. Too easy to defend.
  • I would have preferred to have seen Cleveland use Jamison at the three here instead of Mo Williams + Hickson instead of Ilgauskas. Let Jamison get some shot attempts against Ray or TA and try to get him off the mark. Also, bring in some additional quickness (Hickson) to improve the team D. <em>(West + Moon + Jamison + Hickson + Varejao)</em>
  • Boston should try to post up Tony Allen against Mo Williams. There is no way Williams can defend him down there. TA has a good post game.

LeBron comes back into the game after Boston’s impressive run to begin the second quarter.

  • James steadied the ship, Cleveland have worked their way back into this.
  • Great phrase from JVG — “offense by accident” — with Big Z throwing a poor pass that luckily bounces right to Moon for a layup.
  • Pierce vs Moon is a troubling matchup for Cleveland. The Cavs need to be wary here … be ready to switch LeBron back onto him. LeBron is excellent at avoiding foul trouble, better to roll the dice on that than to let Pierce get red-hot. Two or three buckets and James needs to go back on him.
  • Garnett has been sitting for quite some time. Boston needs to bring him back in.

Mid to Late Second Quarter

  • Oh crap, Mike Brown is bringing Shaq back in. Poor Cavs fans.
  • Varejao went out for Jamison who came in along with Shaq. Varejao cannot rest for more two minutes here. He needs to be in the game. This is a bad combination for Cleveland.
  • Cleveland’s offense is hot right now (led by Mo Williams) … allowing them to get away with this lineup.

Mo Williams has done himself proud tonight. He has gone down without a fight in too many big playoff games but tonight he has been aggressive and been a leader offensively for the Cavs. Still a lousy defender, but, this is good by his (low) standards.

This is a temporary hot patch for the Cavs. Mo Williams won’t be able to sustain this pressure. Boston are still in very good shape … although, they should be worried if LeBron gets going here.

  • That third foul from Rondo could be very important in the second half. Rondo has to avoid giving up a foul here and in the third quarter. Boston cannot afford to have him sitting for too long (well, they might be able to, Tony Allen is playing very well … but you don’t want to risk it).

Halftime — Stats

  • 21-18 Cavs lead on the backboards (Cleveland protecting their backboards well — 88% rebounding percentage — and doing a solid job on the offensive end — 27%)
  • Cleveland have three more turnovers (12 to 9)
  • Free throws even at 19 apiece + both teams shooting poorly from behind the arc, a combined 1-13.
  • Cleveland has an offensive efficiency score of 92.5 points per 100 possessions and an eFG% of 43.8%
  • Boston has an offensive efficiency score of 96.2 points per 100 possessions and an eFG% of 47.4%

Individual stats

  • Mo Williams has 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field + 5-5 from the line.
  • LeBron has 12 points on 12 shot attempts + 5 free throws. He has struggled with his scoring. He has 6 rebounds, 5 dimes and has played very good defense though.
  • Shaq has seven points. Varejao is the only other player with two made field goals on the Cavs team. Four rebounds in ten minutes for Varejao.
  • Rondo has 12 and 7 but also four turnovers
  • Garnett has ten and five but only took six shots (made five of them). He scored or created a shot for someone else whenever he attacked a non-Varejao defender. Needs to continue to be aggressive.
  • Pierce only played 9 minutes due to foul trouble. 1-5 from the field for two points. He needs to step it up in the second half.
  • Ray-Ray has 8 points. Tony Allen has 10 points. 12 shots + 8 FTs to create those 18 points.

The Cavaliers aren’t in great shape here. Too much court time given to Shaq, Jamison and Ilgauskas. Too reliant on Mo Williams. Not enough playing time for Varejao and not enough players playing at a high level outside of Mo and Varejao.

Still, if LeBron finds a way to get going with his scoring then the Cavs are in a dangerous position.

Third Quarter

Boston leading 51-49

  • Celtics are a little tentative right out of the half
  • Wow, Mike Brown still has Jamison out there defending KG … What does it take for Mike Brown to put Varejao in there? Jamison is getting torn apart by Garnett. It is those few post ups that completely turned the momentum of the game back in the Celtics favour.
  • It’s amazing how bad a job Mike Brown has done in this series. He deserves to be fired for cause: incompetence.

One thing is perfectly clear — The Cavs have no hope of beating Orlando if they somehow managed to find a way out of this dogfight with the Celtics.

  • Paul Pierce is having a very bad game. He’s struggling.
  • LeBron still hasn’t got it going offensively but he is doing a superb job hitting the backboards.

Boston lead 58-57 midway through the third quarter

  • Jamison is lost in his own head … he can’t even make good decisions on the offensive end of the floor at this stage. Doesn’t know what he is doing when he catching the ball, hesitant to make his move, then rushing his shot. Cleveland needs to get him off the floor.
  • 9-1 run from the Celtics to build some separation.
  • The Cavs lineup — Parker (Rondo) + Mo (Ray) + James + Varejao + Ilgauskas — isn’t as good as their earlier lineup with West and Moon. The main difference is having Mo defending Ray Allen. That changes what should be a small downgrade (between the two lineups) into a large one.

Boston leading 67-58 with less than four minutes remaining in the third. They need to stay strong and finish this quarter well here. If they do that, they’ll be in great shape heading into the fourth.

Cleveland continue to be lost on their lineup choices. A lack of understanding from Mike Brown about what he needs to do to put his team in a position to succeed. They are in bad shape heading into the final period … of their season and possibly the final period of LeBron’s career in Cleveland.

  • Back to back threes to stomp on the Cavaliers. Pierce with a huge triple there. Boston looking strong. Two minutes to go in the third.
  • Pierce just picked up his fourth foul. That’s okay. They got enough minutes from him here in the third and so long as he doesn’t pickup a quick one on the fourth he should be fine.
  • Rondo avoided his fourth foul. Well done Rondo.
  • Mo Williams hasn’t scored in the second half — he was never going to be able to sustain that first half performance for a full night. Not against a team like Boston.
    • As I say that, Mo scores. One basket in the third quarter, the final minute of the third quarter.
  • 7 turnovers now for LeBron James … very poor night offensively from James.

Great job by Boston to maintain their lead.

Fourth Quarter

Boston leading 76-67

The Celtics are in great shape heading into the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are a mess. They are all over the place. Little to no hope of winning this game.

  • Back to back three pointers from LeBron to make a 7-0 run and close the gap to four points. Timeout Doc Rivers.

Now that is worrying if you are a Celtics fan.

  • 8th turnover from LeBron sparks a 5-0 Boston run (turnover led to layup, then a bad shot attempt from Varejao led to a transition three).
  • Boston back up 9 points.

A few dodgy possessions, then

  • A Paul Pierce drive and kick to Rasheed in the corner for a killer triple double
  • A turnover which led to a 3-on-1 and a dunk

Boston lead 88-74 with only six minutes remaining. Boston have this one wrapped up.


Congratulations to the Boston Celtics. Absolutely terrific series. Very happy to see them have a good playoff run on what may be the last real chance at a title for this group of players. They deserved this. They were the better team in this series.

As for LeBron James

  • I thought the last game was just a bad performance but now I am leaning towards injury. I don’t think he plays this poorly without there being something wrong. Not hurt, injured.
  • I think this loss and the way it happened will leave a very bad taste in LeBron’s mouth. Suddenly (this series), I think LeBron leaving Cleveland has become a very real possibility.
  1. Dave,

    1. Mike Brown’s poor use of his own team’s personnel is what lost this series for the Cavaliers.

    2. Conversely, Doc Rivers deserves a tonne of credit for winning this series without Kevin Garnett being completely healthy.

    3. “Never under-estimate the heart of a champion.” – Rudy T.

  2. Hey Khandor,

    I agree completely. This whole thing is Mike Brown’s fault. I can’t remember ever seeing such poor use of a contending team’s roster … unbelievably bad series from Brown.

    Cleveland were the better team. They should have won this series and they would have won this series if not for Mike Brown.

  3. Hi Dave,

    I just knew it that there will be an upset in this series. I still believe that the Cavs still lacks something overall when compared to the Celtics. And it was proven again.

    The Big 3 from Boston just proved to be too much for Le Bron & Co too handle.

    Now guess the main question is, will Le Bron stay in Cleveland? Time will tell.

  4. Dave, could Lebron theoretically ask for a max contract where he has an opt out clause after every year? Or is there a restriction on the number of opt-outs in a contract. I am asking this about lebron because he holds all the cards and could be able to get this from a desparate team like the Knicks or the Nets.

  5. Hey Dino Gunners,

    I would have to double check but I am pretty sure you are only allowed one opt out clause in your contract.

    I can’t remember whether it is one ETO (send document to opt out) + one player option (send document to opt in to contract), two different clauses, or if you are just allowed one clause period.

  6. Dave,

    I have one more question i wanted to ask you. What do you think Boston’s best move roster-wise going forward. I just had a look at their contract situation and they have huge financial flexbility in 2012 (after KG and Rasheed expire). I feel their best bet is to hold firm with this group of players until this point, and build around you core of all-world talents of Rondo and Perk + the versatile TA and big baby.

  7. Dave,

    On a completely unrelated note to your post but have you seen the Q & A Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins did with the Memphis Commercial Appeal writer Geoff Calkins. It runs like 8,000 words so set 10-15 minutes to read it.

    Its one of the most informative and entertaining interviews i have ever read. Lionel was asked tough questions and answered very honestly. I’m not sure i have ever seen a head coach be that frank. Those two went back and forth and nothing was out of bounds. Although Geoff mentions that only two questions got “the off the record” treatment and that makes me really curious to what was said considering how upfront Lionel was. You get a great feel for his coaching philosophy.

    Jay Triano could learn a few things from him about holding your players accountable,

    “LH: You have to be honest. They’ll hate your guts for what you tell ’em but they’ll hate your guts because you’re honest. And that’s all you can do. That’s what I try to do with all the guys. Rudy Gay and I go at it. O.J. Mayo and I go at it. Mike Conley doesn’t ever talk back to me, but I get on him pretty good. And I get on Marc pretty good. I get on Zach. Zach doesn’t usually talk back either. Or Marc. But, in the end, all those guys will come back and say, “You were right.” They don’t want to admit it in front of their peers and I’m a firm believer that you can’t always say something in private. At some point, the other guys have to know that you’re going to hold people accountable. And that’s just the way it is and they don’t like it. They don’t like to be called out, they don’t like to be yelled at. My job as a coach is to make them go further than they think they can go and give more than they think they can give.”

    Anyway, here’s the link

  8. Can you update the “summer of 2010” stuff. It is a great read, but I think since it was written in Jan., some of the numbers, teams need to be updated.

  9. Sorry for the late replies everyone,

    Simon Says,

    Thanks for the link. It was an excellent read. Lots of interesting material there.

    Dino Gunners,

    I haven’t made my mind up on what the Celtics should do. Their situation is difficult to get a read on because of the uncertain landscape heading into next season (2010 free agency, strength of other contenders in the East) + their age/decline issues.

    Leaning towards keeping the group together but still open to other options.

    Dan B,

    Yes, I’ll be finishing those off and updating some of the previous ones over the next two weeks. Hopefully, it’ll all be done by the end of the Finals.

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