The Cavaliers were never a very good team, even when they had His Lebronship, LeBron James. Since then they have slid further into mediocrity, with marquee names such as Omri Casspi, Luke Walton and Tristan Thompson populating their star-studded roster.
Cleveland is a team you should be able to beat in your sleep if you have even the slightest hopes of being championship caliber. Cleveland is a team you should beat easily if you hope to be more than playoff-time fodder for the Heat or the Knicks.
The Cavs have one true star. Young Kyrie Irving, with his Duke pedigree and his better-than-23-point average, is a real player. Stop him and you’ve got a blowout. Contain him and you’ve got a win. Let him score 40, as he did last night, and you’ve got an embarrassing loss.
What a pity that the Celtics don’t have a shutdown defensive player to make him work for his points. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Celtics had a stopper who could clamp down on the other team’s star point guard.
You know, someone like Avery Bradley.
I forget, what team does he play for? You would think that he would have been on the floor for the Celtics at crunch time, thwarting the designs of the young Mr. Irving. What’s that? He was on the floor, and he was on the other guard?
So who was on Irving? Rajon Rondo, who’s a pretty slick defender himself. He tried, but let’s face it, he shouldn’t be asked to play a team-high 38 minutes, direct the offense and also be in the face of the other team’s star player.
In Rondo’s defense, he was the team’s high scorer with 17 points and used every inch of his 6'1" frame to pull down a game-hgh 13 rebounds. That’s eight more than Kevin Garnett and three more than the Cavs’ seven-foot Tyler Zeller. In fact, Rondo would have had another triple-double if only the Celtics had made their field goals at a rate of better than 38 percent.
So, Doc Rivers, what’s up? I hesitate to tell you how to coach basketball any more than I feel comfortable telling Bill Belichick how to run the Patriots. But for this night at least, I doubted.
Playing Bradley on the off guard is like having the services of James Bond and assigning him to protect Mayor Tom Menino rather than the president. If Bradley’s sore ribs won’t allow him to practice his special brand of D, then he should be on the bench. Or he should be on the injured list. Or he should be rehabbing with the Maine Red Claws down in the NBADL.
Doc, please. I’m trying to fight off post-Patriot depression and I’m looking for a team I can love. But tonight the Celtics' play, along with my hopes, fell into a deep abyss. Please Doc, please, tell me I can expect something better.