Tuesday, May 4, 2010
After last night's 104-86 beat-down victory by the Celtics, Boston and Cleveland are tied 1-1. As the series now heads to Beantown, the Cavaliers are lucky that they're not down 2-0.
With the first two games of the series in the books, the Celtics have outplayed the Cavs 6 of 8 quarters. In Game Two, Boston put up a near-perfect performance, with the exclamation point coming in the third quarter, as they outscored Cleveland 31-12.
Boston shot 51 percent from the field and was 9-19 from downtown! By shooting the ball that well, Cleveland was not able to get their transition game going to create easy shots.
And the best player on the court during these two games may not be MVP Lebron James, but Boston's Rajon Rondo. Yet again, Rondo had his way with Cleveland's defense— getting to the basket and creating easy shots for his teammates.
Last night, Rondo tied the franchise playoff assist record with 19. Through two games, he has 31 dimes.
Physically, Lebron seemed just fine, with no sign of his infamous elbow slowing him down. James had a somewhat typical night— 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists shooting just under 50 percent from the field.
At times, the newest two-time MVP tried to become a jump shooter and not attack the rim. He made a lot of careless passes and once again received little help from his teammates.
Cleveland's X-factor in Game One, Mo Williams, was just 1-9 from the field with only 4 points. Lebron's biggest help came from Antawn Jamison ( 1 6 points) and J.J. Hickson (13 points off the bench).
Zydrunas Ilgauskas has gone missing this series. He played about five minutes in Game One and did not play at all last night. He's only attempted one shot in the two games. Cleveland needs Ilgauskas's outside jump shot to bring defenders out, opening up the inside for Cleveland's smaller lineup.
If there was an X-factor this game, it was Boston's Rasheed Wallace. 'Sheed finally showed up for the playoffs, coming off the bench with 17 points, with 7-8 from the field including 3-4 from downtown.
That's the Rasheed Wallace we've seen many times in the playoffs before. He's just had a very quiet and forgettable season this year with the Celtics. If Boston can continue to get that kind of input from Wallace, then they could easily be champions yet again.
You really have to give Boston head coach Doc Rivers a lot of credit. We all knew the Celtics had a very talented, if not old and injury-prone, team. Throughout the season, Rivers rested his veterans as the team did not dominate the Eastern Conference and finished as a No. 4 seed.
During the season, all the Celtics had to do was stay above .500 and they'd make the playoffs. That strategy seems to have paid off.
As for Cleveland, it's Lebron versus everyone else. The team has once again failed to give the guy any real help. Their biggest acquisitions this year have been a washed up Shaquille O'Neal and a decent (at best) Antawn Jamison.
O'Neal looks out of shape and is a far cry from the dominating center he once was.
The first two games of this series have felt very similar to last year's Eastern Conference Finals, when Cleveland struggled against Orlando. Like Orlando last year, Boston just seems to be a lot better team than Cleveland. Both teams have exploited Lebron's sub-par supporting cast.
Now if Cleveland wants to get back in this series, that supporting cast needs to step it up consistently.