Eddie F. Rush - Home W/L 41-26, Average Home Margin 3.1
Eddie F. Rush has officiated over 1,300+ regular season games, 140+ play-off games and 9 NBA Finals games. Rush was the official who ejected Rafer Alston for hitting Eddie House in the head. He is near the top in calling fouls against the visiting team with 59% of his fouls called on the visitors and only 41% called on the home team. Tommy Heinsohn does not like Rush and has been known to rail against him early and often in games.
Jason Phillips - Home W/L 45-27, Average home margin 5.0
Phillips has officiated 380+ regular season games. Prior to becoming an NBA referee, Phillips worked as a loan officer for Authority Lending. It was Phillips who called the charge on LeBron James with 1:18 left in the game and waived off his hoop that allowed Chicago to win that game. 50% of Phillips foul calls are on the home team and 50% are on the visitors.
Bill Spooner - Home W/L 42-23, Average Home margin 3.2
Spooner has officiated over 1,000+ regular season games and 50+ play-off games. Spooner served as president of the high school referee association in 1982. There are no first round stats for him. Spooner is the ref who failed to call Kobe's elbow to the throat of Ron Artest, even though he was the ref in position to call it. Artest's complaints resulted in his ejection but nothing was called on Kobe in the game. The league later admitted their error and assessed Kobe a flagrant 1 for the elbow.
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at Boston Celtics (0-0, 4-1) at Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0, 4-1)
Saturday, May 1
Time 8:00 PM ET
Round 2, Game 1
Game #6, Road Game #3
Quicken Loans Arena
Referees: Eddie F. Rush, Jason Phillips, Bill Spooner The Celtics now shift their attention from the Miami Wades to the Cleveland LeBrons. Both Miami and Cleveland have dominant stars who virtually are able to win games by themselves. The big difference between them, though, is that the Cavs have a much better supporting cast for LeBron and also a deeper bench than Miami had.
For the first time, the Celtics will be starting a series out on the road since they do not have home court advantage in this series. They proved that they were able to win on the road in the regular season, tying Cleveland for the second best road record in the league. The Cavs are tough to beat at home but the Celtics will need to figure out a way to get it done.
Very few people outside of die hard Celtics fans give the Celtics a chance to win this. Every ESPN analyst pics the Cavs to win in anywhere from 4 to 7 games. Even Tim Legler, who was the only one to pick the Celtics against the Lakers in 2008 picks the Cavs in 7. Dan Shaughnessy's seems to be the only one who gives the Celtics any chance of beating the Cavs.
One thing will be difficult for the Celtics will be the obvious slant toward the Cavs by the officials. We have all watched LeBron James barrel through the lane, sending bodies flying or grab a rebound and swing his elbows in both directions to clear space and very rarely get called for a foul for either. The Celtics must keep their composure and not allow the officials to take them out of their game.
There is added drama from the King of all drama queens, and that is LeBron's phantom elbow injury. I'm not buying it and hopefully the Celtics aren't either. Supposedly, it bothered him throughout the first round but there was no evidence that it slowed him down whatsoever. He will be 100% for this series and the Celtics need to be ready for it.
Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Rajon Rondo 14.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 10.2 APG, +22.6 **
Mo Williams 15.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 5.2 APG, +13.8
Ray Allen 19.4 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 3.4 APG, .528 3P%, +17.6
Anthony Parker 8.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.4 APG .391 3P%, +7.6
Paul Pierce 19.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, +18.2
LeBron James 31.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 8.2 APG, +38.6
Kevin Garnett 15.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, +21.5
Antawn Jamison 19.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, +20.4
Kendrick Perkins 5.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 2.2 BPG +10.2
Shaquille O'Neal 9.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.4 BPG +11.6
** Statistics are Playoff stats Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo 6'1", 171 lbs, 3rd year pro
Mo Williams 6'1", 190 lbs, 6 years pro
Mo Williams is capable of putting up big numbers and Rondo will need to keep his defensive focus to keep Mo in check. Rondo needs to especially stay with Mo on the perimeter. He also needs to keep up his aggressiveness on offense if the Celtics have any chance of winning. This may be one of the few matchups where the Celtics have an advantage and Rondo must make the most of it.
Paul Pierce 6'7", 235 lbs, 11 years pro
LeBron James 6'8", 250 lbs, 6 years pro
LeBron is always a tough matchup for every team. In the past Pierce has looked forward to the challenge of defending him and has been up to the task. We can only hope for a classic Pierce performance in this one on the defensive end to try to contain LeBron. We all know that LeBron doesn't commit fouls so Pierce will be at a disadvantage but he can't let that distract him. He has to keep his focus in spite of the hacking, shoving, elbow throwing, and pushing that doesn't get called. Now, he'll even get the sympathy calls because his elbow hurts. In spite of all the talk about his elbow, I don't expect it to be a factor in this series.
Kevin Garnett 6'11", 253 lbs, 14 years pro
Antawn Jamison 6'9", 235 lbs, 11 year pro
Jamison has been coming up big for the Cavs in the playoffs. He is the Cavs second highest scorer and his ability to hit the outside shot opens the lane for LeBron's drives. KG has a height advantage and should be able to get his shot off over Jamison. He also must slow Jamison down on the offensive end.
Players to Watch
If ever the Celtics needed Rasheed Wallace to step up, it will be in this series. He has done a lot of talking about turning the switch and stepping up his effort in the playoffs and we have not yet seen it. If Rasheed could back up that talk with a solid defensive effort along with some post play, it would be huge for the Celtics.
Anderson Varejao brings energy and hustle off the bench and in the regular season, he was the player who gave the Celtics the most problems (other than LeBron). He is also very physical and more often than not will get the benefit of the calls. The Celtics have to figure out how to slow him down.
The benches from both teams are going to be key. The Cavs are a very deep team and along with Varejao's energy, they have Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon and others who can come in and make a difference in a game. Big Baby, Sheed, Daniels, Finley, and Tony especially must step up their games and make a difference as well.
Keys to the Game Defense Defense Defense -Defense wins games and it wins championships. When the Celtics focus on team defense and concentrate on getting stops they can be very tough to beat. The Celtics won't win if they try to get into a run and gun shoot out with the Cavs. They must get stops and put their focus on playing the type of defense that won the championship for them in 2008.
Play 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to be focused from the tip off until the end of the game. They can't afford to come out flat or lose their focus for any period against a team like the Cavs or they will take full advantage of it.
Rebound - The Celtics have to concentrate on crashing the boards. LeBron is one of the best in the league at getting tip ins and put backs and the Celtics can't afford to give the Cavs second chance points. Also, the Cavs are very good at running the break off of missed baskets and offensive rebounds will prevent this as well as to give themselves second chance points. The Celtics have got to box out and win the battle of the board.
Play Team Ball - The Celtics won't win if they try to do too much individually. They must play team ball on both the offensive and defensive ends. They have to move the ball and find the open man. When the ball sticks too much, the Celtics struggle to score.
Officials and Focus
We know that the Cavs will get the majority of the calls and the Celtics need to focus on their game, especially on the defensive end and not let the bad calls and no calls ruin their focus. They have to know that the bad calls are coming and just play through them. The Bucks almost beat the Cavs in the regular season in spite of a 45-9 free throw disparity and the Celtics certainly can beat the Cavs if they don't lose their focus. They have to know that they won't get the calls and they can't let the refs be an excuse.
As you can see above, the ESPN "experts are once again picking against the Celtics. Even Tim Legler, who was the only one who picked the Celtics over the Lakers in 08, can only muster Cavs in 7. Dan Shaughnessy has gone out on a limb to pick the Celtics over the Cavs. Kenny Smith is waffling a bit but leaning toward the Celtics and he gives Charles a hard time every time he says that he picks Cavs in 4. Just like 2 years ago, the Celtics need to use all the disrespect and dismissals as motivation. If they commit to their in your face defense, they definitely have a chance at this one.
A lot is being made about LeBron's boo boo. I already wrote one piece about this. But I really do think it is all hype. Reasons for this are first that he shot the first free throw perfectly fine, with no hitch or hesitation with his right hand. Once he hit the first one, it was a 2 possession game and he didn't really need the second one. Cue up the left handed free throw to set up the drama. The second reason I think it is all hype is that he says that it has been hurting him for a month. When a player has a nagging injury it affects his performance, at least a little and LeBron showed absolutely no effects of an elbow injury in the first round. And third, he went through one round of tests including an MRI and they said that they could find nothing. Suddenly on the second round of tests they find a bone bruise and a strain. Very convenient. I'm glad to see that the Celtics are also being skeptical and not falling for his ploy.
LeBron saw all the attention Kobe's injury is getting and wanted to get in on that. Now he has a convenient excuse for if he doesn't play well vs Paul Pierce and for if his team comes up short once again. He also conveniently got himself in just about every headline on the sports pages. LeBron has really turned into a first class jerk. When LeBron had that huge dunk on the Celtics last year the announcer yelled "with no regard for human life." Well, LeBron has no regard for anyone but himself and his team has been taking on his attitude which makes them very unlikable. His behavior is getting to be insufferable as seen in this video where he totally disrespects a Bulls ball boy. Too bad the ball boy didn't put some ants or something in his pants before he gave them back to him. Would serve him right.
One more day to wait to watch the Celtics take on the Cavs. It would be great to come out strong in the first game and take that game, putting all the pressure on them. In the meantime, I'd love to see the Thunder take the Lakers to 7 games.
After looking at the above video, is there any doubt in your mind that Joey Crawford either has an agenda or is completely incompetent or should be using a white cane and seeing eye dog? This is the worst call I have ever seen and I have seen a LOT of horrible calls in my years of watching the NBA. But, it seems as though the officiating is getting worse as the years go on.
David Stern has a lot of nerve fining anyone who complains about the officiating when this is the product he is putting out on the court. He says that complaints by coaches and players undermine the consumer confidence in his NBA product. For the most part, coaches and players have legitimate gripes about the refs.
Stern keeps fining anyone who dares to complain about his precious refs and yet we keep getting more of the same. The officiating in game 5 of the Celtics series was atrocious. Most of the series I have watched have had some really bad calls. I doubt we will hear anything about the league fining Joey Crawford for a completely horrible and bogus call on Camby. The system is broken and getting worse. As long as the refs are making calls like this and running their own agendas in games, no amount of complaints from coaches or players will undermine the NBA product any more than Stern's own refs are doing. Time to take the officials out of his hands and put some integrity back into the game.
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This is a very strange injury for LeBron. He falls down the other night and grabs his face like he was sprayed with mace. Then suddenly he forgets the face and grabs the elbow. Then he shoots a perfectly good free throw right handed to seal the game and shoots the second one left handed. Then afterward he says that this elbow thing was bothering him for the last month, even though he's played just fine over the last month without any signs of an injury. And, MRI's and tests show nothing wrong. This leads to a lot of speculation, at least on my part.
Theory 1: My first thought was that poor LeBron saw all the talk about Kobe being such a warrior playing with those injured fingers and he was getting jealous and wanted some of that sympathy for an injury too. He just doesn't want Kobe getting all the adoration for playing hurt. He wants to be hailed for playing hurt too, so he made up this mysterious elbow injury so everyone would talk about him being a warrior for playing through this debilitating injury too.
Theory 2: LeBron found out he was facing the Celtics and got worried. So, he made up this elbow injury in order to have a built in excuse for if or when the Cavs lose. I can hear him now. "If I wasn't injured, we could have won it. My teammates just didn't do enough to make up for the injury that kept me from playing my best." He'll have an excuse and then throw his teammates under the bus.
Theory 3: The steroids are finally getting to him. I have no doubt that this guy uses steroids. David Stern will never test him because he doesn't want to know so the random drug tests will never make their way to LeBron. Somehow the steroids are at the root of the elbow problems and they can't really say what the problem is because the problem is that he is doing something illegal.
Theory 4: He hit his elbow in that one game and it was tingling and he thought, hey this could be good for some attention. QRich may think that Pierce and KG are actresses, but they have nothing on LeBron. The guy is a drama queen of the first degree. Someone breathes on him and he checks his mouth for blood. He is always checking himself for some imaginary injury at least several times a game. So, he did get a stinger and is milking it for all he's worth.
Theory 5: This is all made up just to get the Celtics overconfident because they think he is injured. It's an old strategy, go at the guy who is injured. Celtics go at him and since he is perfectly healthy he blocks them or draws the foul on them every time.
Theory 6: LeBron really does have some kind of mysterious injury... Nah. Forget that one. I'm not buying.
Just a few comments gleaned from the Cavs boards to whet your appetite for the series that begins on Saturday.
The only reason we didn't sweep the Bulls is because we didn't take them seriously. (Not to mention, we had bigger fish to fry)
I think that our team's hate for the Celtics could fuel a sweep.
Paul Pierce spits at benches, fakes injuries, acts like he gets whiplashed every time he drives. I wish whoever stabbed him knew what they were doing.
There is nobody in the NBA that I hate as much as Sheed.
I actually like Rondo. Don't like Rasheed. Don't like Big Baby. I like Perkins only because I know how hard he worked to get to where he is physically.
This could be a rough series. You know the Celtics are going after the elbow.
I think the key to the series is the benches. Cleveland has a stronger bench and more depth then the Celtics. If the Celtics get strong bench play then Cleveland could be in trouble. IMO.
I say we win in six rough and bumpy games, and hopefully we are not too banged and bruised for Orlando.
I think the Cavs could win in 5 if MB uses good rotations. Of course I don't have much of a reason to think he will, so it'll probably go 6.
Ray Allen is the man, for the rest of them: show no mercy.
The C's are done after this season.
Guaransheed victory for the Cavs.
Once again Kenny Smith believes Boston can beat the Cavs
Ray Allen is gonna have a field day against weak sauce.
Keep Lebrons elbow away from fat baby Davis and we should be okay.
Edit: unless it's hitting fatty's nose, then I'm okay with it
Boston will never win in Cleveland, so max this is going is Cleveland in 7 games.
Boston will be a CAKEWALK
I GURANTEE Boston won't be as hard to beat as some people think they will...
Our problem with Boston is RONDO and maybe TONY ALLEN
Take away garnett, pierce, ray Allen because these three are the so called OLD ONES but I betcha these guys are closers
I say CAVS should not let rondo control early in the game so we take a big lead. Celts will be dangerous if the game is close
What's the over/under on how many times Paul Pierce has to be Carried off the court? I'll say 3. That guy goes down quicker than an Italian soccer player.
But in all seriousness Rondo and Garnett both have to hit the floor.