|Is this the end of the LeBron era in Cleveland?||05.12.10 at 11:58 am ET|
Last Friday, in the wake of the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ dominant 124-95 win over the Celtics at TD Garden in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, everyone was ready to call the series over. LeBron James was back, putting behind any notions of a elbow troubles by coming through with an unstoppable performance, tallying 38 points, eight boards and seven assists in the blowout.
But that was then, and this is now. Now being the day after James submitted an astonishing 3-14 effort and finished with just 15 points in a 120-88 Game 5 loss to the Celtics. Just when it looked like James and the Cavs were going to take control of the series, the Celtics bounced back to win two straight, and now have the chance to take the series in Game 6 at the Garden Thursday.
By no means are the Cavaliers done, particularly the way the Celtics have played at home this season. But there was an air of finality on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, as only a handful of people were left in the seats to watch what might have been LeBron James’ last game on that court as part of the home team.
The question has loomed large in Cleveland (and New York) all season, and with the Cavs one game away from having their season come to an abrupt finish fans are getting antsy. Depending on whether or not you want to believe James’ “official biographer,” he is all but gone from Cleveland, whether the Cavs can rebound and end up winning the title or not. And with offers like this, how could you blame him?
While LeBron’s destination for the 2010-11 season isn’t a certainty, there was no denying that he struggled mightily on Tuesday night. And the King is catching a lot of flack for his performance, with much of the blame being placed squarely on his shoulders despite the struggles the rest of his team had both offensively and particularly defensively in Game 5. Much of the discussion has centered on the fact that the Cavs have looked like a team without much of an identity, particularly when compared to the Celtics. For all the hoopla over Boston’s regular season troubles, it is the Celtics who have found the rhythm in this series (minus that Game 3, where it seemed they barely showed up) and the Cavs who have looked lost.
There is at least some sentiment that that could be caused by chemistry issues. For all the talk of Cleveland’s abundance of talent, Mike Brown has had trouble juggling it in this series. That was on display Tuesday night when he gave Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had barely played at all in this series, an extended run and even put a cold Daniel Gibson in during the third quarter when he felt the game slipping away. There is some suggestion that maybe a new coach could keep LeBron in his home state. Despite what Brown has done to help mold this Cleveland into a contender, you can bet that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will do whatever it takes to keep James from leaving. But it is not like the blame that has been placed on LeBron himself has not been warranted. Brian Windhorst, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s beat writer for the Cavs, wrote that he has seen chemistry problems develop as James has acted increasingly “disengaged” in this playoff series.
So you have every right to be afraid, Cleveland fans. If the Celtics win on Thursday, the Cavs could lose a lot more than just this series.
|Allen on D&H: ‘So much room for improvement’||04.12.10 at 2:17 pm ET|
The Celtics have been wildly inconsistent in their play this season, and that was no more evident than last week when they followed up a big win over Cleveland with losses to the Knicks and Wizards (with a win over Toronto sandwiched in between). The ugly display against Washington on Friday did not please fans at TD Garden, who booed the Green for their lackluster effort.
“It’s disappointing anytime your home fans boo,” Allen said. “Obviously, nobody on the team wants to lay an egg out there on the floor. It snowballed in the wrong direction. I remember being in the game and it was tied and I came out, and before you know it they went on a run and were making shot after shot and we just couldn’t make a bucket.”
Allen was asked about the high expectations for this team, as the Celtics have had harsh critics all season long despite winning 50 games. He said that in sports, players always think they can do things better. “Even in ’08 when we won 15 games in a row it was like, ‘Well what do we do next?’ And we just keep working and focusing on the process that we are going through and get better,” Allen said. “Even at 50 wins we are really thinking that there is so much room for improvement. Each guy can get better. But there is never room for disenchantment or for anybody to be discouraged. Especially fans and the media, we have an uphill battle for us. Even if we won 60 games it would be an uphill battle [in the playoffs].”
Allen also was asked about the unity of this team, with constant mentioning of team meetings and reports throughout the season questioning the team’s desire. He said that this squad is even closer than the ’07-08 title team, “but the complexity of guys change and I don’t make excuses for anybody, but I know [Rajon] Rondo even more now and I know Kevin even more now. So we are getting to know each other and everybody has each other’s back.”
A full transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here.
At the beginning of the year Doc Rivers got rid of shootarounds. Has this new system been comfortable for you?
For me, I get up pretty early anyway. Some days when we didn’t have shootarounds I was up taking the kids to school, so I was always up anyway and it didn’t really make a difference for me one way or another. I think we all felt the same way; everybody on the team was on the same page. And body-wise we all had to find a new routine or new rhythm. I know Doc was taking responsibility but for us we take responsibility just as much because we still have to go out there and play when the game starts.
We talked to you early in the season about all the trade rumors. But now with the deadline well past, how do you assess this season? It has been pretty interesting I’m sure.
Guys, that is part of the NBA business I believe. Every step of the way throughout the year you are dealing with some type of situation or scenario, whether it is All-Star Weekend, the trade deadline, or the playoffs. It is just typical business. For me, I have been in this situation before when I was in Seattle. I was in the last year of my contract and they were discussing whether I was going to be traded. So I’d dealt with it before; it wasn’t anything that was new to me. What people were assuming was that it was bothering me, which it didn’t because I have been in basketball long enough to understand how it goes. I knew coming into the season that my contract was very attractive to a lot of teams that wanted to jump into the free agency pool this summer. So that is just part of it. To me, if you look at what we are doing if you are ever around our practice facility ‘ it was unfortunate that Eddie House got traded, we hate to see him go ‘ but nobody talked about it. We didn’t worry about it. Once we were in the locker room we just did our job. Read the rest of this entry »
|Nate on D&H: ‘These are some pretty big shoes to fill’||02.26.10 at 3:09 pm ET|
Recently acquired Celtics guard Nate Robinson appeared on the Dale & Holley show Friday afternoon to talk about how he is taking to his new home in Boston. Robinson said that he is going to “do my job and just try to help this team win as many games as we can” as he takes the place of the Eddie House off the bench.
Robinson talked about his appreciation for the history of his new team as a fan of the game of basketball. “I know the Celtics and the Celtics and Lakers, the dynamic in the past in the NBA they have been the two dominant teams in the world,” he said. “So it’s just good to be a part of it and hopefully I can make some history here.
He also touched on some of the negative perceptions that came out of the end of his tenure in New York, where Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni benched him for part of the season. Said Robinson: “Him putting me on the bench was his decision. I couldn’t argue against it. So, I had to sit there and wait my turn and be patient.” As for negative opinions, Robinson said that, “Me personally, I don’t really care at all if people like me or if they don’t. I’m here to play the game the right way and the best way I know how.”
The three-time champion of the All-Star dunk contest also added his thoughts on the event. Though he said that he is done dunking in the event, Robinson does not feel that the format of the marquee feature of All-Star Saturday needs to be tinkered with.”You’ve just got to find different guys to make it interesting. You have to get guys that want to do it. You can’t put guys in there who want to do it just to do it,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
|Ainge on Big Show: ‘I’m a fan’ of Robinson||02.19.10 at 8:24 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss the NBA trade deadline and his team’s current performance.
Ainge praised the newest member of the Celtics, Nate Robinson, saying that he is “more of a scorer, and I think that’s what Doc wants him to be. That’s what he is good at and that’s what he should try to do.” Ainge said that the Celtics did not like giving up Eddie House in the deal, but that Robinson is “just a more dynamic player.”
After a rough stretch to close out the pre-All-Star Game schedule, the Celtics are 2-0, including Thursday night’s win over the Lakers. Ainge addressed some of the current issues on the team, including the health of Kevin Garnett and the play of Rasheed Wallace. On Wallace, Ainge said that his “biggest concern with Rasheed when we were looking at him this summer was that he didn’t come to play every night,” but he hopes he will give the C’s an edge in the playoffs.
He also talked about the health of Paul Pierce, and his place in history among the Boston greats. Ainge said that Pierce’s foot injury has healed, though his knee infection still causes some problems at times that leaves him at “95 percent.” He said that Pierce’s sustained excellence put him in a class among some of the team’s all-time greats including Kevin McHale and John Havlicek, “outside of Bird and Russell.”
Below is a transcript of the interview. To listen, click here.
Were you happy with that game last night?
So what’s been going on when we’ve played the good teams over the last month ‘ we have a 14-point lead at Orlando, an 11-point lead against the Lakers here at the Garden ‘ so there have been a lot of good things going on. Our offense down the stretch, it seems like we quit moving. We are doing nothing but isolation basketball. We quit moving ‘ it’s not fatigue, it’s not age. It’s more bad habits than it is anything to do with talent. We saw last night that Ray is not old, Ray [Allen] can play. Maybe he has been distracted the last few weeks. But here is the deal with Ray. One thing that’s lost, and that is why it was hard to move Ray considering our chances this year, is that Ray is having the best year of his career shooting the ball inside the three-point line. The only place he is struggling with his shot now is with the 3-pointer. His two-point shooting is the highest in his career and that doesn’t get noticed. Last night he made the spot up shot in transition which were huge and we are hopeful we can see more of that in the second half of the year.