Celtics-Cavs: Smothering Defenses and Lackluster Performances

Matt St. JeanContributor IMay 7, 2008

   As a true basketball fan you love defensive battles and you were sporting an ear to ear smile after watching King James and the Cavs get stifled by a scrappy Celtics defense.

    On the other hand if you are in the NBA's marketing department the result from Tuesday night's game you shouting at the TV, "HOW CAN PAUL PIERCE, RAY ALLEN and LEBRON JAMES COMBINED POINT TOTAL BE LESS THAN ZYDRUNAS ILGAUSKAS?" 

    The game was an absolute nightmare, low-scoring, LeBron was grounded, Ray Allen did not come near the basket and Paul Pierce's usually open driving lanes were blocked by the big Cavalier defenders.

    What the Cavaliers showed is that they cannot win without LeBron scoring more than 20 points, but we knew that already didn't we? The Celtics proved that when two out of the big three can be shutdown there is always that third guy to ignite the team.

    Kevin Garnett scored a game high 28 points and 8 rebounds to go along with it. He took the game into his hands down the stretch like a true champion would.

    Another thing that I noticed down the stretch is the maturation (finally) of Paul Pierce. In past seasons and into the beginning of this season Paul Pierce would put it upon himself to take the final shot, whether there was one defender on him or five. If Pierce had an off night he would still attempt thirty or more shots just to try to keep the game in reach. Last night was a completely different story. He shot 2-14 from the field in 29 minutes of playing time.

    However, he was on the court during the possession that KG made his defender look a toddler and made the game winning lay-up. Last season that was Pierce's isolation and it still would be except he has finally developed a decent amount trust in the appropriately dubbed, "Boston Three Party." In the end the Celtics emerged victorious.

    LeBron James needs to stand in front of a mirror and look himself in the face to find that glorified phenom inside of him because lately he has looked like he forgot his lucky socks back in Cleveland.

    The King has missed two buzzer-beaters in the past three games, both of which were lay-ups. What is wrong with LeBron? I admittedly missed the one against the Wizards, I was studying for finals. I did watch the one against the Celtics and that shot should have been made no doubt about it. It was contested by a couple of Celtic defenders but it was a shot that he has made a thousand times.

    Although that cannot be an excuse for a player who has compared to the Airman himself. Who on several occasions has made much tougher shots than the bunnies that LeBron choked on.

    What we are learning is that LeBron still has some growing up to do. He still lacks the playoff experience to consistently make shots in incredibly clutch situations.

    The good news for LeBron is that he has a chance at redemption tomorrow night on the Parquet, but I think we have seen a sign of things to come in this series.

   The Boston Celtic defense is too much for the Cavaliers to handle. Also, you better believe the Ray Allen is not going to throw up another goose-egg and Pierce to be so quiet.

    Game 2 in this series, for the NBA's sake needs to involve a bit more scoring and for the Cavs' sake LeBron needs to wake up from the daze that he seems to be in.

    The way that the Celtics have been playing on their home floor in the playoffs and throughout the season I do not think that the Cavaliers are going to win tomorrow away from home...if at all.