Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Boston
The Boston Celtics came into their road matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers just two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They looked at this as a chance to add a another half-game advantage over the Bucks.
Boston barely got the job done in this one.
It was an all-around weird game for the Celtics, as it seems they will be until Kevin Garnett gets back into the game. They had Jeff Green play everything from small forward to center, as Paul Pierce was knocked down to the de facto point guard at times.
Plus, I think it's fair to say that this was the only game all season long in which a person in the home crowd has cut open two of the players on the visiting team. Dr. Lars Svensson, the cardiac surgeon who performed heart surgery on both Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox, was in the crowd for this one.
Boston shot poorly, turned the ball over too much and couldn't stop Cleveland's fast-break game for two consecutive quarters.
Luckily for Boston, they had a big advantage in the first quarter, and a bigger one in the fourth to give them a chance late.
Horrible defense from the Cavs on the final play, and nerves of steel from Jeff Green ended up giving them the 93-92 win.
Avery Bradley: C-
Stat Line: 3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1-of-7 shooting
Avery Bradley, generally one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, had a surprisingly rough time staying on top of Shaun Livingston on the road against the Cavaliers.
It makes sense, as Bradley, a mere 6'2", gives up nearly five inches to Livingston, who is all of 6'7" and then some with his extremely long arms.
Livingston was able to work his way into the post a few times, get a rhythm going and eventually putting together a solid inside-outside game.
Also unsurprisingly, Bradley's extremely long frame lent itself to some more than solid defense on Bradley, who had trouble getting clean shots off all night long.
It was an interestingly difficult evening for Bradley, especially when the presence and reputation of Livingston doesn't exactly give off a frightening vibe. However, sometimes there is more to a matchup than names and reputation.
Livingston happened to be a tricky cipher for Bradley tonight, as he is for most point guards in the league when he's got his shot falling and his passes zipping around.
Paul Pierce: A-
Stat Line: 19 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 7-of-16 shooting
Boston threw together a lineup that resembled a college configuration in this one, throwing four forwards together with a single guard.
With no true center, Jeff Green sticking in at the small forward spot and Paul Pierce the odd man out, Pierce ended up getting dropped down to the shooting guard spot, albeit in name only.
Pierce was the main man on the scoring load (or at least he was expected to be), and as expected the Cavs threw Alonzo Gee in his direction, doing their best to give the old man fits with a young, athletic forward.
The two had a nice ebb and flow for the duration of the game, each gaining the advantage alternatively throughout.
Pierce had a rough time in the first half trying to deal with Gee's zeal, so he turned into a facilitator, set up his teammates and stopped shooting. Once the third quarter came around he started finding openings and hit a few shots.
Near the end of the third and in the beginning of the fourth Pierce was cold again. Of course, he picked it back up late, hit a few key shots and free throws, and he did more than his part to get the win.
Jeff Green: B+
Stat Line: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 7-of-18 shooting
Jeff Green was given the rare off night of having to guard the other team's best offensive player taller than 6'5", as the Cavaliers were without their best offensive player.
Green got his pick of Wayne Ellington and Alonzo Gee, and for the most part he did a pretty lousy job.
Ellington was his main cover during the first half, and he had a solid start against the streaky shooter, forcing a miss on his first four attempts. The only problem was that he let up a bit after that, and Ellington started streaking to the rim.
The biggest problem with Green's defense tonight was in the transition, as he failed to get back quickly enough to slow down the galloping Cavaliers, who put their foot down hard on the gas pedal after their slow start in the first quarter.
Oh, and then there was the plethora of open three-pointers that C.J. Miles saw coming off the bench.
Offensively, Green was just as off. He was incapable of knocking down a jumper, and he didn't get to the rim enough to really have a big impact. And then the fourth quarter started.
Green dropped in nine fourth-quarter points, all including a three-pointer, some free throws, a few shots close to the hoop and the game-winning layup as time expired.
Brandon Bass: B
Stat Line: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 8-of-14 shooting
Surprisingly enough, Brandon Bass came out of the gate firing and ended up leading the Celtics in scoring on a night when they desperately needed some scoring.
Even more impressive, he did it against one of the league's best young post defenders in Tristan Thompson.
Bass was working well in the low post tonight, hitting jumper after jumper over Thompson, and turning around and slipping by him a few times too.
Of course, where there's a positive with Bass this season, there always seems to be a negative close behind. He was absolutely terrible on defense.
While Thompson covered Bass on defense, Bass instead opted for the cover on Tyler Zeller for most of the game, checking the slower, jump shooting big man, rather than the explosive Thompson.
Zeller used his height to tap out countless rebounds, and hit his fair share of jumpers on an unusually efficient scoring night. Hell, Zeller even dunked off the dribble tonight, something he may not have done all season long.
Chris Wilcox: B-
Stat Line: 6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 2-of-3 shooting
Chris Wilcox didn't see a huge amount of time, but he was responsible for keeping Tristan Thompson in check during the first half, and that was enough to make his impact felt in this one.
Thompson didn't score until the third quarter, as Wilcox had a strong cover on him for each and every one of his five first-half misses.
Wilcox was able to add in some solid help defense when the Cavaliers guards decided to venture into the lane, and he picked up his fair share of rebounds for the short amount of time that he spent on the floor.
The biggest problem with Wilcox was that Marreese Speights found himself having a hot shooting night, and he's not a guy who can chase young fellows all over the court. Eventually Jeff Green stepped up to the power forward spot and Wilcox watched from the sidelines.
Sixth Man, Jordan Crawford: B
Stat Line: 12 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 2 steals, 5-of-8 shooting
Jordan Crawford and Jason Terry have been battling back and forth for the past few weeks over who is the true sixth man for this team, especially since Terry has had a rough go at times this season.
In this game, Crawford got the better of Terry.
It was a night where Terry forgot the lighter fluid in Boston, so he had trouble getting hot and staying hot all night long.
Meanwhile, Crawford was able to come in and throw together a night where nearly every one of his mid-range jumpers actually fell, much to everyone's surprise.
Crawford sank shots and helped to slow down the hot-shooting Cavaliers in the second half with some hot shooting of his own.
Stat Line: 22 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, 9-of-16 shooting
When you've got names like Shavlik Randolph and D.J. White coming in after Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford, it's best to check expectations at the door and be happy with any kind of positive results that the Celtics bench delivers past the first two guys in.
Terry's off-night shooting certainly didn't help Boston at all, and what he forgot on offense he didn't exactly make up for on defense.
Aside from Crawford's solid night, Randolph came in and hit a shot, plus nabbed a few steals, and Terrence Williams came away with a few assists, so that was nice.
Don't expect much from this group and there won't be any disappointment.