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The Mass Media

Cavaliers Blow Out Celtics

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I started writing this article in the third quarter of the latest Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers game, played last Wednesday night.  That should give you a sense of how bad the Celtics loss to the Cavaliers. Midway through the fourth quarter, after a lengthy commercial break, I legitimately wondered if ESPN gave up on the game and switched over to another show.

The game was just painful to watch, yet I still came away with a feeling that the Celtics could do much better, and still make a series between the Cavaliers more competitive than what the Celtics displayed Wednesday night. I’m not just saying that as someone who desperately wants to watch Isaiah Thomas pull off an incredible upset to add to Boston’s already unfair sports legacy.

The Celtics couldn’t find their shot all game, but it wasn’t the Cavaliers defense that stopped them. Thomas’ relentless attacks on the rim left guys wide open all game, but they were just unable to make more than 40 percent of their shots. Both Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart made only one shot out of eight attempts, and no other player besides Thomas scored over 15 points. The Celtics were also outrebounded 51-38, and couldn’t get any scoring out of their bench.

So where’s that silver lining again?

The final score may give the impression that the Celtics were thoroughly embarrassed. However, the intensity of the game was felt throughout the entirety. Kyrie Irving scored under his season average with 19 points, which is still pretty respectable. And Bradley’s poor offensive night could almost be excused by his excellent lock defense. Even though the Cavaliers scored 114 points, the Celtics made them work for it throughout the night, and forced Cleveland to move the ball around and get everyone involved. Of course, the disclaimer must be added that the Cavs were resting players pretty early on.

I don’t think the Celtics will put up another performance as poor as this one. I’m willing to cautiously label this as an outlier game, and say the momentum got away from them. The Cavaliers maintained excellent spacing throughout, refused to turn the ball over, and controlled the flow. It was a perfect storm of excellent basketball fundamentals that deflated the Celtics completely.

This is where the Celtics’ hyped-up coach comes into the discussion. Brad Stevens needs to get Al Horford involved. Horford had a beautiful post-up shot during the game, and made it look so easy. Yet the Celtics barely looked his way, and had an erratic low percentage of shots. Stevens wants to push the offense through Thmoas, and while he doesn’t have many options at times, he needs to get the ball in the hands of his other guards. Guys like Smart and Jaylen Brown need to get more looks and get involved early on to build momentum and confidence.
Maybe moving back into second place will motivate the team even more. The Celtics have the coaching advantage, and the type of players that can give the Cavaliers a tough series. Maybe I’m still in denial, but I still feel that this game shouldn’t be considered be a sign of things to come.