There were a number of media comments following the Friday game that seemed to imply that Rondo had fallen by the wayside in his efforts to lead the Celtics’ charge against LeBron and the Cavaliers. No question, the Celtics laid a real stinker—but Rajon was one of the few bright spots. I just don’t understand the conclusion that Rondo had a sub par game, unless par for him has become supernova. The following quote from ESPN seemed typical of the damning with faint praise.
Chris Forsberg for ESPN ”Rondo finished 9-of-17 shooting, but, unlike Game 2 where he tied a playoff record with 19 assists, he wasn't able to generate easy points for teammates -- or himself -- like he had in previous games.”
True, Rajon’s assist total was down; but those passes don’t become assists unless your teammates make the shots. In the disastrous first quarter, his fellow starters fired a whole cloud of bricks. For the game Rajon’s All-Star swingmen went a combined 6 of 24. Rondo’s “off” game included leading the team in offensive rebounds, total rebounds, assists, tied for steals, and on 50+% shooting was one point shy of Garnett’s 19 for leading scorer. The big-damage scorers for the Cavs were their starting front line, none of which is the defensive assignment of Rajon. Unless he is going to throw the touchdown pass and then catch it too, I don’t know just how much more he can do. Add to that the fact that most of the night he was taking the inbounds pass after a Cleveland score and that Parker often picked him up in the back court to slow the assault.
No, Rondo did not have a super game, but other than he and Garnett, only Perkins played even as well as “o.k.” The whole team has to play better, and together, but let’s drop this line that Rajon let us down. [Discuss on CG Forums!]
Must win game. This is the type of win a championship team puts together.
I have confidence, a LeBron James team is never desperate.
I got a bad feeling about this one on Friday
Sorry but that's BS. We've always been desperate.
One area the Celtic clearly without a doubt exceed the Cavs is their dancers. Ours look like dog crap compared to those girls.
I actually have a good feeling about this game on Friday. I believe Mike Brown actually grilled the team during practice...hopefully he worked on our starting 5 bringing the intensity from the tip off!
The cavs are very lucky/fortunate not to be down 0-2 and that's sad to say from a team that have been talking about championship/ring all year.
The Celtics are looking like the better team out there-The cavs the team relying on momentum...Lebron does look hurt but when he throw the block from behind on Tony Allen he made me think/wonder about the elbow being really hurt...
Lets don't fool our selves, its not the cavaliers sucking its the Celtics defense. The cavs better come very aggressive if they want to win this series.
I think we'd all be concerned even if we were up2-0.
Boston will not continue to play lights out if the Cavs step up their game and run them into rehab..if they let the Celts control the pace it'll be bad but if they psuh those guys they'll fold..
Good news... The league sent us Bennett Salvatore and Ken Mauer for Game 3 tonight:
We were a combined 11-0 with them calling our games during the regular season:
David Stern knows he can't have the Cavs bounced in the second round
Salvatore called the game 4 beatdown in Chicago and Mauer/Zarba did the game 5 wrap up back home. Savlatore is the white knight of Cavs games, with the Cavs winning the 8 games he's called be an average of +14.9 points per game. After the loss last game with Dan Crawford calling the action, Salvatore and Mauer are two of only three refs to call at least 5 Cavs games, but never call a loss (Guthrie being the other).
Based on a sports betting forum I go to, with these refs the Cavs are 18-1 (OT loss to Memphis), Celtics are 5-8.
Gotta keep Garnett out of the post, which shouldn't be all that hard given his injury. Through two games, KG is 10-16 (62.5%) in the post (includes layups/dunks), but an awful 7-25 (28.0%) on jumpshots.
LeBron did his standard 100+ shot routine more than two hours before the game with no restrictions.
It's time to shut down Rondo!! These crazy assist numbers he's putting up need to stop.
I expect the Cavs to come out play hard defense and run on the old geizers. Should be a statement game tonight.
Cleveland must show up for game 3, or they'll may be watching the conference finals on TV.
Cavs in a blowout. MVP shows why he is the KING! Elbow or no elbow.
Salvatore to the rescue.
Wow, nice body check, Perkins. This isn't hockey. If Shaq did that to Rondo, Rondo would have been knocked through the floor.
Barely a flagrant 1, it's a playoff foul
18-1...rep the refs son
I swear PIERCE is getting open looks every time
Pile up those fouls on the big guys
Refs calling Boston for all their dirty tricks, but overall this game is being call too closely
Wow, the refs finally called a moving screen on Boston. It must be Christmas.
Celtics playing the way they have all year at home….sloppy
Nice start by the Cavs and the refs
LOL even the calls the Celtics are getting take away baskets from them. I love these refs
Andy's gonna get Perk thrown out of this game....can't wait
Maybe Stern knew Lebron needed all these days off for his elbow ahead of time
I love these refs!!!
Lets see if the "real" Rashweed shows up this time.
Every time I see Ray Allan I want to hit him.
I said it before but again, I love these refs!!!
NEED to take advantage of this officiating while it lasts.
Nice to see the elbow fully extended there
Odds on Rivers getting thrown out of this game?
Is it me or does big baby flop on every shot
Rondo is freakin good. He may be my second favorite player.
If Rondo keeps making jumpers, Mark Price should lose his lifetime Cavs card
OMG, that's a ******** charge called on West. Davis slid right underneath him. BS
2 on Sheed...please don't make him come out
While game 2 was embarrassing, we didn't just completely forget how to play basketball like Boston has.
Is Pierce slacking off or he really sucks... I don't quite get it
KG making everything...oh well
Perkins with 4 offensive fouls and a 14 second violation and 11 steps without dribbling then picking up his dribble and taking 6 more steps. Two points for Boston. I woulda just fouled him and made him make 2 FT's.
The only bad thing for the Celtics when planning this second half comeback is that they suck d in the second half.
The Cavs are disgracing the hell outta Boston's defense.
Allen got fouled twice and then jacked a contested 3 pointer... Beautiful
It takes a lot to put Shaq on the ground like that... Just sayin'.
Rondo terrified to shoot... Welcome back to Earth...
Like I said earlier, the Cavs are toying with the Celtics.
Wow, Perkins pushes Andy in the back to get the rebound and no foul called.
Andy has brought that on himself. He is too well known for flailing around with the littlest push that now when he gets legitimately shoved they don't call it.
You can hear pin drop in that arena.
Its a good game when the home crowd boos the home team
I was expecting throwing towels by the fans, now where was that Probably using it to wipe their tears
You know Doc is getting desperate when Nate Robinson is on the floor...
How did they get a midget sleeve for Nate? They probably bought it at the circus.
Haha Where is your LEON POWE Celtics
This game was the series to me. Which is why I am so amazed that the Celtics would come out and lay an egg like this. Shameful.
Nate Robinson is the quintessential garbage-time player.
LOL @ Boston keeping their big 4 in to prove they can hang with Cleveland and win this quarter... And failing miserably.
Daniels has been smoking crack before this game...look at his eyes!
Truth is we looked like a championship caliber team for the second time in the post-season. Hope we can keep it up.
The Cavs have finally figured out that if you turn Rondo into a jump shooter instead of a driver/distributor then you've essentially given yourself the win. Anthony Parker did a fantastic job tonight.
They also figured out that Garnett cannot guard Jamison off the dribble.
It's pretty clear Powe hates Big Baby. I agree with him.
Cavs showed up, Celtics didn't. Intensity on both ends were one sided and the better team won.
Worst home loss in Celtics history!! Love it!
I guess Lebron's elbow is finished tweetting and have decided to play ball....
Celtics will not win another game in this series, book it.
at Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1) at Boston Celtics (1-1)
Friday, May 7
7:00 PM ET
Round 2, Game 3
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Ken Mauer, Zach Zarba
The Celtics dominated both games in Cleveland in spite of having the majority of calls go against them. In the first game, they got complacent and allowed the Cavs to come back and take the game in the end. In game 2, they let a 23 point lead slip down to 10, but it wasn't as much complacency in that game as it was a flurry of bad calls and no calls that hit them. In spite of playing 5 on 8, the Celtics were able to keep their composure and get the win.
Now, they are coming back home with home court advantage and a chance to go up 3-1 in the series if they can win both games on their home court. Even though they will be playing at home, they can't expect to get any help from the refs as I expect the calls to still go the Cavs way, especially with the crew officiating this game. . The Celtics must focus as they did in game 2 and not allow the bad calls and no calls to affect how they play.
The Celtics struggled at home in the regular season, but this is the playoff version of the Celtics and they have been more focused and we are seeing the defense that we have come to know and love from this team in years past. Hopefully they keep their focus and are able to use home court to their advantage and win the next two games.
The Celtics proved that they can beat both the Cavs and the refs. They proved that they can win in Cleveland. Now they have to defend their home court and make the Garden a place to be feared once again.
Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams
This continues to be the biggest advantage that the Celtics have. Rondo has been the best player in this series and hopefully he will continue to be so. So far, the Cavs haven't been able to come up with an answer for him as he has dominated every matchup they have thrown at him. Mo Williams got hot in the first game and that is a concern for the Celtics. They have to defend him closely so as to keep him from finding his shot again.
Paul Pierce vs LeBron James
Paul Pierce has spent much of this series so far in foul trouble. Since the refs aren't allowed to call fouls on LeBron, many of his fouls have been called in the other direction and that has kept Pierce from being aggressive. He is due for a big game and it could be in this one. After LeBron's big game in game 1, we thought that the elbow talk would be put to rest, but after his sub-par performance in game 2, the elbow talk was back. The Celtics aggressive lock down defense had more to do with it than his elbow and the Celtics will need that same tough defense in this game.
Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
So far, Kevin Garnett has dominated this matchup. Jamison got off to a good start in game 2, but KG was able to slow him down as the game went along. KG has been able to get his shot over Jamison at will and has gotten to the hoop quite often so far. It would be nice to see more of the same in this game.
Celtics Bench vs Cavaliers Bench
The benches have had an influence in both games so far. In game 1, the Cavs bench came through while the Celtics bench was pretty much invisible. In game 2, the Celtics bench, Sheed in particular, out played the Cavs bench. The Celtics will need to get production from guys off the bench once again in order to win this game. They can't win with the starters having to score all the points. The bench has to contribute on both ends of the court and help with the lock down defense as well.
Keys to the Game Defense Defense Defense It was the defense that won game 2. They held the Cavs to 40% and kept their stars from getting into any kind of rhythm. They must keep that defensive focus in this game and not allow any of the Cavs to get comfortable. Defense wins championships and they can't forget that for even a minute during the game.
Rebound Defense is the most important key with rebounding very close behind. The Celtics must be aggressive in going after rebounds and not allow the Cavs to get tip ins or second chance points. The Cavs have it a lot easier as they can go over the back and crash the boards without fear of picking up fouls. The Celtics out rebounded the Cavs 43-32 in game 2 and they won big in spite of the huge free throw disparity. That isn't a coincidence. The Celtics must win the rebounding battle.
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 of time since the Cavs can get hot very quickly as we saw in game 1. Also, they have to expect a flurry of bad calls as we saw in game 2 that will try to give the game to the Cavs. The Celtics can't afford any let ups.
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. The Celtics had 30 assists in game 2 and the ball movement was excellent. We need to see more of the same in this game.
Take Care of the Ball - The Cavs got 23 points off of turnovers in game 1. The Celtics turned the ball over 19 times in game 2 and that is too much. They have to try to take better care of the ball because the Cavs are very good at converting turnovers into points.
Home Court and Officials
The Celtics must make the home court work for them. They can't expect to get a lot of calls even though they are home, but they will have the home fans who will be rocking the Garden and they have familiarity. And Danny Ainge won't be the only one throwing things to try to distract their free throw shooters. The Celtics have to focus and protect their home court in spite of the calls or no calls.
Bennett Salvatore Regular Season Stats
Home Team W/L 46-22
Home Team Win % 68.9%
Home Team Foul % 50% Playoff Stats
Home Team Win % 57%
Home Team Foul % 48.5%
Road Team Foul % 51.5%
Bennett Salvatore has refereed over 1,400 regular season games, 175+ playoff games and 20 NBA Finals games. Bennett has the distinction of being the worst referee alive today. The man is just incompetent. Salvatore seems to miss more calls and make more bad calls per game than all the other refs and tonight he is our crew chief. Salvatore made one of the most controversial calls in NBA finals history in game 5 of the 2006 finals. The call basically gave the Heat their championship. Here is Bill Simmons' take on the call.
Salvatore called the foul on Wade's final drive in overtime (remember, the call where ABC couldn't find a replay to show that anyone touched him?) even though he was standing at midcourt a full 35-40 feet from the play, and even though two other refs were closer to the play. Not only was that NOT his call, he butchered it.
Another of Salvatore's controversial calls was in the 2008 conference finals when he waved off a contested 3-pointer that Pierce had hoisted over Richard Hamilton, inducing him to leave his feet with a ball fake. Pierce, however, was charged with an offensive foul for creating the contact with Hamilton. Here are a couple of video examples of Salvatore's ineptness.
Ken Mauer Regular Season Stats
Home W/L 39-31
Home Team Win % 51%
Home Team Foul % 47.7% Playoff Stats
Home Team Win % 50%
Home Team Foul % 51%
Home Team T's 1.3
Road Team T's .8
Mauer has been a referee since the 1986-87 season and has officiated over 1,200+ regular season games, 70+ play-off games and 3 NBA Finals games. He has been a road friendly ref in the playoffs, calling more fouls on the home team than on the road team. He is also very quick to call T's averaging 1.3 Technicals on the home team and .8 on the road team per game. No doubt that this guy is crooked, he was charged with tax evasion and obstructing federal tax laws for receiving substantial taxable income from 1989 through 1994 and failing to declare it. He was one of the refs in the Miami/Dallas Finals where the foul calls were totally lopsided. Video evidence of Mauer's incompetence and bias.
Zach Zarba Regular Season Stats
Home Team Won/Loss 41-32
Home Team Win % 54%
Home Team Foul % 49.5%
Playoff Stats (4 games)
Home Team Win % 75%
Home Team Foul % 51%
Zarba has officiated over 175+ regular season games and spent 2 years officiating the D-League. Zarba is one of the league’s youngest officials and because of that, he hasn't been involved in a lot of controversy so far. However, he is another ref who has called more fouls on the home teams in the playoffs than on the road teams.
It looks like Stern has carefully picked his referees for this game. Celtics fans can start cringing now. Salvatore and Mauer assure that the Celtics will be playing 5 on 8 once again, even though they are at home.
This is shaping up to be a great NBA playoff series--compelling match-ups, devious subplots, emotional swings, leveraged advantages and calculated adjustments, individual greatness and personal failure, runs and droughts, aging All-Stars and rising luminaries, punch and counterpunch, and flashes of brilliance leavened by gritty dogged determination. Even beyond the court of play there is no shortage of subplots—impending free-agency for the Cleveland star and half the Celtics’ team, coaching carousel issues swirling around head coaches and assistants, executives racking up fines for tossing towels into the air to distract opponents at the free-throw line, and the looming specter of playoff failure being followed by blowing up the losing team.
Both teams are all-in with salary commitments near $85M which will draw another twenty plus million in Luxury Tax. Add in the coaching and training staff and you are well north of $115M before you start adding in travel, the post-game buffet, tape and liniment, and oh, a couple of basketballs. With 41 home games that’s more than $3M per game in fixed costs and that’s still ignoring the scouting staff, executives, public relations and lawyers. Even with average attendance pushing 20,000 we’re talking $150 a seat to break even. Of course there are a multitude of other costs and a huge TV contract income but you get my point—these teams aren’t doing it on the cheap and the post-season tour is essential to making ends meet.
Make no mistake about it, both teams are staring a loss of the gravy train right in the face. If LeBron leaves Cleveland (a rising possibility with an early elimination) you will be able to hear the thud of the Cavalier’s drop in revenue (and record) on either coast. An early departure for the Celtics could mean the end of the New Big Three era and mostly new (and unmarketable) faces on next year’s squad. Those transition (rebuilding, reloading, restocking, draft-position enhancing, off, down, hiatus—pick a word, they all stink) years may have fans tuning in for the lottery drawing but there will be a lot of hang-ups on the season-ticket renewal calls and advertising on the local broadcasts will be public-service-message heavy.
But all that is management’s problem and we were talking about the drama unfolding on the floor and the high quality of its entertainment value. Throughout the regular season Cleveland seemed to just get stronger and stronger. LeBron was unstoppable and became a defensive force. Mo Williams, last year’s coup of an addition, provided streaks of long-range bombing as well as the point-guard play to relieve James of the need to bring the ball down the court. The off-season free-agent additions of Moon and Parker brought height, defense, and outside shooting for his LeBron-ness’ wingmen and the biggest inside presence on the planet—the Man of Many Nicknames. The midseason addition brought the one ingredient thought to be missing—an outside threat at power forward to stretch defenders and open James’ driving lanes. The punch line of the joke was the cost for Jamison—a month furlough for Ilgaukas who was long enough in the tooth that the four-week vacation could have been looked on as a strategic investment. A classic example of the rich getting richer—and the league left quaking in their sneakers.
The Celtics presented a much different story. Although fast out of the gate, the injuries persisted from the previous season (Garnett and Tony Allen), resumed before the season even began (Glen Davis), and continued throughout the season (Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Tony again, Davis again, Pierce again, Garnett again, Pierce again and again, Perkins, even Scal played [or maybe sat] through a shoulder problem). More disturbing than the constant stream of injuries was the seeming lack of fire in the team’s belly led by Mr. Lackadaisical, Rasheed Wallace, who made a mockery of the Celtic creed of playing hard. There was no boost coming from the paltry contributions of the C’s off-season signings of Sheed and Daniels and that left the faltering C’s another day older and deeper in debt (a nod to Tennessee Ernie Ford and Sixteen Tons). The talk of “throwing the switch” grew tiresome and seemed as likely to refer to an executioner’s mercifully ending the 2010 season as to some mythical resurgence for the postseason.
And then! And then the Cavaliers met Chicago in the fist round. They dispatched the Red and Black but looked distinctly not-invulnerable. They didn’t struggle as much as the Celtics had in 2009 when it seemed the 7-game match in the death-cage brought only a Pyrrhic-victory leaving the Green too depleted to finish their uphill battle. But it was not a rout and the assembled group of custom-fitted Cavs seemed more Frankenstein than juggernaut. The Celtics on the other hand rediscover their defensive base and readily downed the Heat. They made Wade’s supporting cast disappear even though Miami was one of the hottest teams finishing the season. What had seemed a sad mismatch two weeks earlier, now looked like a toss-up between a name-brand collection of disparate parts and a cohesive aggregate of surprisingly hale and hearty pieces all attached to the same string. Hey, we may have a series on our hands.
The story lines just keep on coming. What had appeared to be a made-for-TV break in the series that was so long it threatened rust, now looks like a fortuitous break for both teams as Cleveland hopes for LeBron to return to full strength and the Celtics pray their starting interior can shake off their hobbling injuries. Mo Williams and Rasheed Wallace have pulled now-you-see-it now-you-don’t performances out of their hats and left the odds-makers fuming and the fans rolling their eyes. So far the match-ups favor the Cavs at small forward and the C’s everywhere else. Superstar LeBron has a sleeve over the right arm that he carried (between deft executions with same) like a bloody stump in the final Bulls’ game. That hasn’t kept him from hitting 50% (on 24 shots and 3 of 6 from 3-point land in the first game), throwing down dunks and smashing lay-up attempts from behind, and playing 40-plus minutes every game. Lord knows whether the riot police would have been enough to restore order had the King been served the regular helping of floor that has been dished out to Rajon Rondo on a nightly basis. As glitzy as the King has been, so too has Rondo amazed. Despite repeatedly being smashed to the hardwood, Rajon has sliced, diced, and toyed with the Cavaliers serving out ample helpings of points and assists and leading a team with three All-Stars taking supporting roles.
Now neither of these teams (nor any of the others in the Association) is without flaws. Both feature declining veteran stars (nearly half of the Celtics rotation and 74 years of age in the Cavaliers’ two centers and Jamison approaching 34.) The Cavs’ point guard is a notoriously streaky shooter and Rondo aspires to streaky jump shooting. Both benches disappear for games at a time. Neither front court handles active athletic opponents well. But while there are no candidates for all-time great teams this year there are interesting and exciting contests. Add in the numerous subplots both on and off the court and you have compelling entertainment. So pull up the Barco-lounger, pop a cap on a beverage, put on the popcorn, and settle back (to be interspersed with leaps with fists shooting into the air) for the show.