Photo: Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer
Every time the Cavaliers play the Celtics, it becomes more evident that the cockiness of the once-lethal Boston team is just the front of a rapidly declining team right now. LeBron James believes it is boredom, but I believe it is simply time catching up to the 32-34 year old core of this team. The Cavaliers used their Shaq-less athletic lineup to thoroughly beat the Celtics, although the scoreboard didn't show it for much of the game. Boston prides themselves on their defense, but it has lightened up in recent months, and their offensive prowess just isn't that of a top two team in the East right now.
J.J. takes the challenge early: One thing that cannot be said about J.J. Hickson is that he struggles in big games. Ever since last year when he was destroyed in the Cavs-Lakers game in Cleveland by Lamar Odom, he has thrived in big games, especially national TV games and those against the Magic, Celtics, and Lakers. He had 11 points and 14 rebounds in a game against Los Angeles, 20 points and 4 rebounds in the second matchup with Orlando, and 12 points and 3 rebounds against the Celtics today. Hickson had 8 of those very early with LeBron finding him for several open looks. More impressively, he didn't back down from Kevin Garnett, who took sort of a cheap shot at him. Garnett likes to pick on people he doesn't think will fight back, like point guards or young bigs. I give J.J. credit from not letting his youth idol not walk all over him. Hickson continues to improve on finishing around the rim, and those pesky frequent blocks that plagued him early on happen much less often.