Ramble On Sports

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Five thoughts from Game 4 of Celtics-Cavaliers

Posted by Bill Koch on May 9, 2010

Rajon Rondo

Sunday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers sparked more questions than answers.

Do we have a real series now? Can Boston really win another game in Cleveland? Were the Cavaliers simply content to earn back their home court advantage during their two-game trip to the East Coast?

What we know is that the best-of-7 meeting between the two teams is now best-of-3 after Boston’s 97-87 victory at The Fake Garden. Rajon Rondo was sensational and LeBron James was ordinary as the Celtics knotted up the Cavaliers, 2-2, in the series and kept their flickering hopes of making one more title run behind their aging core alive. Here are five thoughts on the NBA’s Mother’s Day action.

*   Rondo now firmly belongs in – and might even head – the conversation when it comes to the league’s elite points guards. His monstrous triple-double, a 29-point, 18-rebound, 13-assist tour de force rivals anything that Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd and Derrick Rose could produce. This was Magic Johnson territory, and that’s not overstating it. Rondo played all but 1:12 of the 48 minutes, a span in which Boston was outscored, 7-0, and was absolutely brilliant. There’s really not much more to say.

*  Maybe there is more to say, because Rondo crushed Mo Williams today in our key matchup of the series. Rondo hammered Cleveland’s point guard (3-for-9 shooting, 13 points, three rebounds, four assists in 36 minutes) in every statistical category. It’s no coincidence that Rondo has dominated Williams in both Boston victories in this series.

*  Tony Allen came through for the second straight series. Much like he did in a Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Allen made a difference off the bench on Sunday. He was 6-for-7 from the field, scored 15 points in 26 minutes and equaled Rondo’s team-best plus-14 while he was on the floor. Allen and the Celtics’ thin bench outscored Cleveland’s reserves, 23-11, and helped to make up for poor performances by Paul Pierce (9 points, 3-for-8 shooting) and Kendrick Perkins (scoreless in 24 minutes).

*  King James looked disinterested. He was just 7-for-18 from the field and scored a tame 22 points in 44 uninspired minutes. LeBron lacked the focus and the fire that he displayed during his brilliant performance in Game 3, and the rest of the Cavaliers mirrored the mood of their star. This was a strange afternoon for the NBA’s best player, but maybe LeBron was just pacing himself. He is a veteran after all with a veteran’s mindset, and perhaps he’s waiting to give maximum effort in Cleveland’s remaining two home games in the series. All the Cavaliers have to do is protect their own turf to advance, and we’ve seen this script before in the NBA. It’s fantastic (some of the time – at least when its stars feel like playing).

*  Does Doc Rivers have any control over his team? His pregame speech, shown before ABC’s coverage began, was disturbing. Rivers was practically begging the Celtics to actually try in a game that they absolutely had to have to keep any realistic chance alive of extending their season. Falling behind 3-1 against Cleveland by losing two straight home games should have been reason enough to come out firing, but Boston fell into a 7-0 hole inside the first 2:15 when Antawn Jamison stormed down the lane and hammered down a dunk over Perkins. The Celtics looked just like they did when they fell behind by 19 in the first quarter of Game 3. Maybe Doc should step aside before the Game 5 pregame speech and turn it over to someone else.

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One Response to “Five thoughts from Game 4 of Celtics-Cavaliers”

  1. Adam said

    Love your stuff, kid. You were right about Rondo, but I don’t know if anyone thought he would be this good. But anyway, check out this stuff written by the Cavs beat writer, I think you’ll appreciate his analysis: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2010/05/cleveland_cavaliers_at_boston_3.html.

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