Cavaliers 107, Celtics 76 (box)
One would assume that if they were elbowed below the belt that they would be the ones unhappy. Oddly enough, it was the elbow-er Ray Allen who is apparently getting emotional in his old age and didn’t take very kindly to getting his rear end handed to him for 48 minutes on national television. But more on Jesus Shuttlesworth a bit later.
What a game. From start to finish. There were questions on whether each team had what it took to “get up” for their opposition. The Celtics are in a mode where they would just like to get healthy while playing enough to hold Orlando down to the third seed in the eastern conference. The Cavaliers, owner of the top seed in the east, have to make a decision on whether or not they need to lock up the top seed overall, or just play things out and see what happens. Then of course there’s that whole home court record coupled with the fact that things did not go well in Boston during the last time these two teams duked it out.
But all questions above were answered from the opening tip on when the Cavaliers jumped out to a 31-9 lead after the first quarter. Unlike the game that preceeded Cavs/Celtics on ABC, Quicken Loans Arena seats were full of fans in wine and gold, and their reward for coming out on Easter Sunday was getting to witness one of the biggest beatdowns of the season. Even a 14-0 run by Boston going into halftime would not be enough to overcome said deficit.
The Celtics main offensive weapons Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to go 6-for-25 from the floor. Only Glen Davis (-27) had a worse +/- than Allen (-20) in the game, and was spelled by Eddie House for much of the second half. Cleveland outrebounded Boston 46 to 28, with Zydrunas Ilgauskas pulling down 10 and Joe Smith and Anderson Varejao each grabbing eight.
In the end, it was all about two things: 1) The mighty Celtics were held to 36 percent shooting, and 2) They could not stop LeBron James. Even a bear hug on a fast break opportunity resulted in an and-one after James muscled in the bucket. Complete with flexing and getting all 20,500 fans on their feet. When it wasn’t at the hoop, it was James draining one of his five three-point field goals. One occurred with less than three seconds left on the shot clock; the next was a turn-around three square in the eye of Tony Allen. All in all, James finished with 29 points in 30 minutes of play as he sat the entire fourth quarter. A perfect 6-of-6 from the line, 9-of-14 from the field. And one mean air guitar in the fourth quarter when the Cavalier reserves outscored those of the Celtics 25-20, locking up the everpopular free chalupa for those in attendance.
Now, about the much-discussed Ray Allen and his in-game and post-game antics. All of this talk about feeling “disrespected” due to the Cavaliers enjoying their win and taking part in the exact same ritual as they have much of the season by air guitaring to Never Gonna Give You Up? Let me get this straight: There are only certain times when a team is allowed to take part in their typical celebrations? All of a sudden since hitorical Boston is in town, the other team has to change the way they act? Right on, Ray. Same goes to all of the media and bloggers alike that claims to watch all of the Cavaliers’ games but then fail to recognize that this is all in line with the previous games. What’s next? Whining about how their introductions are louder than yours? “Hey, they get fire! No fair!” If you don’t want an opposing team to celebrate in the fourth quarter, how about not falling behind by 30+ points?
And to me, you have a team and a fan base that gets all up in arms if you use the term “dirty,” and this is what goes down?
Allen’s remarks wreak of “poor me.” His layup that was blocked by LeBron James will be played on loop for the remainder of the playoffs. His team had a shooting percentage of 15 percent at one point well within the game. But because he decides to get tangled with an opposing player, his reaction is two throw an elbow? I’m sure that will go over well considering the last time these two teams played, Glen Davis decided to use a clothesline instead of, you know, fundamental defense.
Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Allen gets fined. Had the referees been in a place to witness the altercation from the appropriate angle, he may have been ejected. Opposing teams fans love to point the finger at Varejao, who obviously gets under the skin of a few people. I never think that Varejao’s always in the clear – I’m not that biased. But in this instance, I fail to see what actions took place that called for Allen’s cheap shot. For a few other opinions, here’s what a few others are saying about the move.
Varejao clearly didn’t do anything to deserve that elbow. The refs appeared to be shielded from the play, which is probably why the double technicals were handed out instead of Allen alone getting the whistle. I think if an official had seen it originally, things would have gone down differently. An elbow to the groin on a dead ball? That’s an ejection, people. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the league handed down a fine or suspension for it in the near future. [Brett Pollakoff/NBA FanHouse]
The Cavs are right at that line where whether they went too far is up for debate. And that’s fine. I’m not here to complain about it. Nothing they did pissed me off. But it DID piss off the Celtics… and that’s what matters. The Cavs were celebrating like it was a blowout in Game 7… rather than a meaningless regular season game. You don’t want to give a team that feeds off emotion like the Celtics something to get amped up about the next time around. [Red's Army]
Now, did Ray’s reaction look pretty dirty? Yeah, it looked pretty bad. Here’s the thing though, he wasn’t even looking at Anderson and he threw the elbow back, probably hoping to catch him in the gut and …well, missed. Clearly he didn’t make any solid contact or the man would be doubled over in pain (one would think). [CelticsBlog]
This weilded three funny results which were: A. Varejao didn’t respond to being elbowed in the sack whatsoever, which either means he’s the strongest man on earth or has … B. Instead of retaliating and smacking the sh*t out of Ray Allen (which is what 90% of the population would have done), he holds his arms in the air and follows Ray around like Frankenstein. C. Varejao received a technical foul for his troubles. [Sportaphile]
Regardless of all that is above, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now the 14th team ever – as in the history of the NBA – to win 65 games. Unfortunately, not all was roses yesterday as Ben Wallace, who recently returned from a leg injury, left the game midway through the second quarter after bruising his knee. Brian Windhorst reports that Big Ben did not travel to Indianapolis for tonight’s game and will have an MRI done to ensure that it is in fact a minor injury. Judging by the way that Darnell Jackson and Joe Smith have been playing as of late, tonight should be a decent night to rest Wallace up for the playoffs.
Needless to say, the home stretch of the regular season is upon us. I’m already being told how much I owe for playoff tickets. All in all, it’s probably the only time of the year that I look forward to actually owing someone money. Playoffs, baby.
(photos courtesy of Associated Press)