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Cleveland Cavaliers

Reality starting to bite

By admin Published: May 14, 2008

Celtics 96, Cavs 89
--When the Cavs lost Game 1 here it was a missed opportunity because they didn't play as well as they could have and still nearly won. Tonight, I felt like they played pretty well and still were not able to win. They were not flawless by any stretch, they fell into some old habits, but you sort of get the impression that they just may not be able to beat the Celtics on the road. They got the game they needed from LeBron James tonight, the type of performance I thought would put them over the top. But it still wasn't enough and it wasn't close to enough. And it makes you wonder what would be enough. --It would be a mistake to count the Cavs out of this series. They have an excellent chance to play well at home on Friday and force a Game 7. In those spots anything can happen, but the Cavs may have to play perfect to win here and I just wonder if they genuinely have it in them. The Celtics have a lot of firepower and their roles players play well at home and it makes it daunting. I still question whether the Celtics have enough poise to win the title, but when they are at home they are just flat better than the Cavs. --LeBron was not transcendent tonight, but he was great. In the scope of this series, scoring 35 points on the road is akin to scoring like 45 or maybe more in a regular season game. He struggled for a bit in the third quarter and that is why it wasn't one of his all-time greats. But that is my point, it seems like it will take an all-time great. He did only have five assists, which showed a Cavs weakness tonight. They had 11 assists and 16 turnovers, but that is what happens here. It is a flaw in their mentality and their offense, they just don't handle pressure well a lot of the time. Three games is enough data to realize that. --Two key moments in the game, Rajon Rondo hitting the two 3-pointers in the second quarter to start a 14-3 run and the three Cavs' turnovers to start the third quarter. On Rondo, you are going to have to live with that. With the turnovers, that cannot happen if you are going to win this series. But it has happened consistently here. --Otherwise, I actually feel like the Cavs did pretty well. The turnovers killed them, but their defense was strong for a lot of the game. I felt like their rotations were solid and so was their effort but Boston just got red hot and made great passes that beat it. At one point the Celtics made 19-of-28 shots. Kevin Garnett is making jumpers, he's great when he's making jumpers. Paul Pierce broke out, he's an all-star, you had to figure it would happen. --Doc Rivers did a nice job with Rondo by putting the ball more in his hands so it was hard for the Cavs to cheat off him. Then Rondo was aggressive in driving. I thought this was going to be a major problem at the beginning of this series because when Rondo got in the lane in the regular season it killed the Cavs' defense. Tonight he was comfortable and aggressive and Delonte West and Daniel Gibson could handle it. That is a weakness of theirs at times. Rondo also threw in some crazy floaters and that's going to happen for guys like him at home. West worked hard to challenge him at the other end and played well. Rondo was just better tonight. --I've heard from some people who think free throw shooting was a factor. I say not really. The Cavs shot just a little below their average and LeBron and West were a combined 21-of-26. So Andy Varejao missed some, he does that, that's why he was fouled. Didn't decide the game. The Celtics shooting 62 percent in the second or third quarters did. --After the game, LeBron made a little proclamation: "A LeBron James team is never desperate." I sort of differ on that one, but his point is fair. There's no doubt that he has personal confidence going and if the Cavs play they way they did at home in Games 3 and 4 on Friday then there is a lot more interesting basketball left. But the Cavs now have no room for error and this team makes a lot of mistakes even in the best of times.
Recap:
Pregame
Starting lineups
Cavs: Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Zydrunas Ilgauskas Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Officials Ron Garrettson, Tony Brothers, Dan Crawford
--This could be a memorable game. I feel like this is a must win game for the Celtics for so many reasons. I don't think they win in Cleveland if they've lost three straight. I think there's pressure from both sides. And watching LeBron this morning and before the game I get the sense that he's confident and locked in. It's not an exact science, but when he's like this he often has big games. --The Cavs role players need to make shots tonight. Nobody has to score 25, but West, Wally or Daniel Gibson need to make some shots to take the pressure off. Also, LeBron doesn't need to score 40 for the Cavs to win. If he scores 30, in this series, it would be highly impactful. --I wouldn't be surprised if Doc Rivers makes some changes to his rotation tonight, maybe giving Tony Allen or even Eddie House some playing time. I don't know how much longer he can trust Sam Cassell. --The game plan for the Cavs is the same it has been all series up here. They need to keep it close going into the fourth. Absorb the runs and deal with the fans, who are very, very loud here. When the Celtics get up 10-15 points they are almost impossible to come back on at home.
Halftime -- Cavs 46, Celtics 43 --The Cavs played a strong first half for the most part. Obviously LeBron is finding a comfort on offense. He's attacking from different angels and making multiple moves to get to the basket plus his jumper is working the best it has in the series. Defensively the rotations have been good and for the most part the Celtics have been taking the shots the Cavs want them too. --Paul Pierce is also getting going and in general the Celtics are moving the ball better. They are just not getting many open looks. But I do think Pierce is forcing things a little bit, which may come back to to hurt him later in the game. --I don't think the Cavs are playing great offense. They are shooting at a high percentage, but they have just six assists on 16 baskets. They are doing a good job attacking and they've gotten 14 free throw attempts. A little too much dribbling, which may come back to bite them. Also, they have turned the ball over 12 times is a big reason they are not up more. --Expect this game to be skin tight heading down the stretch, we'll see if LeBron can be the differencemaker.

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