Sorry, I’m still screaming after LeBron’s throwdown in the face of KG, the face of the Celtics defense, the face of the 66-win franchise, that knotted up this best-of-seven series at two apiece.
A tough, hard-nosed, physical game—how about only one foul being whistled in the last nine minutes?—came down to three possessions. Up 76-73, with both teams scoreless for over three minutes, LeBron dribbled around a HUGE screen from Andy and nailed a three.
You just knew he wasn’t going to keep missing jumpers. No, he’s not a great jump shooter, but he does and can make jump shots. None was bigger in the series than that one.
After Paul Pierce made a tough jumper, the Cavs went to another pick play for LeBron. For the first time perhaps ever, the Cavs used a double screen with Boobie and Andy. LeBron rolled around to Andy’s side, and three—three!—Celtics defenders jumped to follow him.
That left Boobie wide open, and he doesn’t miss those shots. His make put the Cavs ahead by seven with just 2:30 left and had the Celtics reeling on the ropes.
The knockout blow was the thunderous jam heard ‘round The Q, heard ‘round downtown, that may—should the Cavs pull out two more wins—serve as the defining moment in a series that’s been devoid of them to this point.
You could feel his momentum gathering as soon as LeBron came around the corner. For the first time all series, no Celtic defender awaited him, as Pierce and James Posey melted away. LeBron charged, and charged hard, and all the Kevin Garnett’s in the world would not stop him.
Here we are now, tied at two. The series has started all over again. And the Cavs can prove to everyone that last year’s run was no fluke by taking care of business on the road in Game Five.
Other thoughts and notes as my stomach slowly unwinds from the knot it’s been tied in…
1. For the second straight game, LeBron got the help he needed. Z did not play very well, but Andy and Joe Smith carried the way for the post players. This is the Andy Varejao that I know and love as a player, and who has been MIA for the entire postseason.
He finished with 12 points and six rebounds and harassed KG all night. What works to his benefit defending Garnett is that they are nearly the same height. Ben Wallace gives up about five inches—he’s listed at 6-foot-9 but everyone knows he’s closer to 6-foot-7—allowing KG to shoot over the top of him. Andy’s length makes that more difficult, and he played much, much more physically with him in the post as well. Great all-around performance for the Brazilian.
Smith continues to knock down 16-foot jumpers as if they were layups. I love his game. I’m still shocked that he’s bounced around the league as much as he has.
2. Harping on a point Reggie Miller made during the broadcast but one that bears repeating, Boobie went to the basket a lot more off the dribble tonight than I can remember. If he can do that somewhat consistently, he becomes a viable threat to score 16-20 points a night and be “that guy” LeBron needs.
His ballhandling is still a bit suspect, and I don’t know if he’ll develop into that “true” point guard, but Boobie can put the ball in the hoop, and that’s still an area of weakness for this team.
3. Another solid performance by Wally’s World tonight. He hit the open shots that he needed to, and his defense on Ray Allen has gone largely unnoticed. He’s fought through baseline screen after baseline screen to chase after him, and Allen has shot the ball well in only two quarters (out of 16) in this series.
4. Curious officiating came up in the second quarter, with lots of touchy, ticky-tack fouls that swung the game back towards the Celtics. The two that stuck out in my mind were the calls against Joe Smith (hedging on a screen against Allen) and Varejao and KG bumping down the court (the foul that put Boston in the bonus with eight minutes left.)
Then, with LeBron picking up his third defending Allen—I honestly didn’t see where this took place but it very well could have—the Celtics seemed poised to surge into the lead going into halftime.
The Cavs certainly struggled but held on to take a two-point lead into the break, which was the same margin it was after the first, even though LeBron sat four minutes in that frame.
5. The Cavs won two games on the road in the first round. They won Game Five in Detroit last year. They won in New Jersey. Honestly, if any team in this NBA postseason is going to win a game on the road, it will be the Cavs.
(And they better. They should arguably be closing this series out Wednesday night.)
Finally, one last random rant from Saturday night…who else saw that horrible locker room conversation between Bill Russell and KG that ABC staged? And that cheesy, overly dramatic music ABC had it set to made me want to rip my ears off.
I don’t know why any of that was necessary. I’d rather watch a non-stop loop of LeBron’s Fave Five arenas to play in…
Well, on second thought, maybe I will watch a little more of Bill Russell…