Last season the Boston Celtics bullied their way through the Eastern Conference and went on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games to become the NBA champions. They also defeated the Cavaliers in game seven of the Eastern Conference semifinals to advance in the playoffs.
However, this year the much-improved Cavaliers are proving to be the new "Beast of the East." This Cavalier team isn't the same team that Boston faced in the playoffs last season. With the acquisition of Mo Williams and the signing of Joe Smith, the Cavs are now the No. 1 team in the league, and are becoming the favorites to come out of the East.
With home-court advantage wrapped up throughout the Eastern bracket, the Cavs seem to be well on their way to achieving their No. 1 goal: a championship. They are also looking to finish with a record of 40-1 on their home court, which would tie the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the best home record for a season.
The Celtics weren't able to stop them from tying that record as Cleveland handed them their worst loss of the season, 107-76.
The Cavs jumped out on the Celtics early on. They held them to just nine points in the first quarter on 3-0f-20 shooting.
"I looked up at the scoreboard one time and they were shooting 15 percent from the floor," said James. "That's unbelievable."
Cleveland led by as many as 36 points and Boston was never able to get back into the game. Boston's head coach Doc Rivers was disgusted at his team's play. In the second quarter, during a timeout, Rivers was heard shouting at his team, "You play together, we'll score." By the end of the game Rivers didn't even want to talk about basketball.
You may hear arguments that Boston didn't have Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe or that the game didn't mean anything to them because it wouldn't affect their playoff seeding. Regardless, the Celtics are the defending NBA champs and they still have their pride to play for. As they watched their hole get deeper and deeper, the frustrated Celtics let their emotions get the best of them.
In the third quarter after a made free throw, Anderson Varejao and Ray Allen got tangled up under the basket and Allen was tossed to the floor. He responded with an elbow to Anderson's groin which led to a technical foul. Allen and Varejao each had words for each other after the game.
"It was a dirty play," said Allen. "He locked my arm and threw me to the ground. I'm always going to stand up for myself. It's one thing for a team to be beating us, but they're not going to walk all over us."
On the flip side, Varejao joked about the situation.
"You don't hit a man in his groin," he said. "He doesn't like Brazilians or he doesn't like my hair."
This was yet another game where LeBron got to rest the whole fourth quarter. He still finished with 29 points and seven assists and shot a remarkable 9-of-14 from the floor and six-of-six from the line.
Daniel Gibson seems to be finding his rhythm just in time for the playoffs and he finished with 15 points off the bench. Mo Williams and Delonte West added 13 points each and Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
If these two teams happen to meet up in the Eastern Conference finals (which is expected), you can bet Boston will remember this game and it won't be a pretty series.
With a win in Indiana on Monday, the Cavs can secure the best record in the league and will be guaranteed home court advantage throughout the playoffs, which in Cleveland's case could be the difference in winning a championship.