By Jake Appleman

Before I get to my game 3 analysis, a quick, somewhat relevant story from late afternoon on Saturday: My roommate and I were headed downtown but the subway wasn’t running that way because of track work, so we needed to hop a cab. Right before we hit the corner to hail the cab, a group of teens, including one holding a basketball, walked up to the entrance of an adjacent building. As I always do when I see someone holding a basketball, I stared at it. One of the kids must have seen me looking at the ball because after I had turned around to hail the cab, I heard the following yelled in my direction:

“Hey white boy; you look like Brian Scalabrine, ni99a!”

I considered wheeling around and giving the kids a speech about the importance of Brian Scalabrine to the world, but we were running late. In fact, just two days prior I had an enlightening conversation with Scalabrine about blogs and the recent Buzz Bissinger/Will Leitch roundtable on Costas Now–a dialogue initiated by Scal. Anyway, I like talking to Scalabrine because he has his opinions, but he doesn’t shove them down your throat. He strikes a conversational balance, which many people in love with their own opinions have a hard time doing. In essence, his personality is conducive to discourse, which is something anybody with a brain in their head can appreciate. That goes for the emerging Leon Powe as well.

Oh, and if anyone was confused, I look nothing like Brian Scalabrine.

I look like Slava Medvedenko.

Anyway, on to my game 3 word vomit.

Farley: What the hell was that?
Spade: A chunk in the road or something.
Farley: I just chunked in my pants.

In the 1996 film Black Sheep, Chris Farley and David Spade are sent on a mission to retroactively save the world from an elitist Hillary Clinton, recapturing a lost youth after the fact by firing round after round of hollow tips at a litter of newborn Labrador puppies in her grandfather’s backyard. On their way to stop Hillary, Farley and Spade (known as Mike and Steve, for those concerned with such irrelevant details) encounter problems on the road. The nitrous oxide booster in their borrowed police cruiser bursts, leaking toxic fumes into the car that get them high. At one point Spade (or “Steve”) starts marveling at the word “road”, pronouncing it “RO-ADD” in his hazy state. If you project “RO-ADD”—a combination of the word “road”, “A-D-D”, and being stoned—on the Boston Celtics’ Game 3 performance, it fits perfectly.

I wanted to watch Game 3 and analyze how the Cavs were going to break down the Cs vaunted defense, focusing on a series of important possessions that would illustrate how Mike Brown had adjusted his offense that revolves around the pick and roll. This didn’t happen because the Celtics didn’t play much defense, giving up 32 points in the first quarter, some of it resulting from lazy man-marking, some of it resulting from poor rebounding and some of it resulting from confidence gained by Cleveland’s shooters after being left open.

(Note: If you leave a shooter open once in front of 20,000 people rooting for him in a big game and he drains it, drainage probability increases the second time, even if you get a hand in his face. This is known in various kitchens as the basketball derivative of “home cooking”, or what my wonderful mother—happy mother’s day!—would refer to as offensive “comfort food.”)

Yeah, Cleveland spaced the floor and knocked down shots, but there was no “look at how good we are on defense, now respond!” tone to the game set by the Celtics. When the lead ballooned to 26, it was over—and if anyone wasn’t sure, early in the third quarter LeBron pinned a Rajon Rondo layup to the backboard, a vertically majestic “Game Over”…with almost a half left to play.

Everyone Danny Ferry acquired during the giant mid-season swap between the Cavs, Bulls and Sonics went off in Game 3. Joe Smith played ball indicative of the solid season he had; in the biggest professional game of his life Delonte West was freaking brilliant (I’ll take words I thought I’d never write for 400, Alex); and Walter Robert Szczerbiak got to serve-the-yak with Michele Tafoya during a rare halftime interview done by someone other than LeBron.

While West, Smith and Szczerbiak all put up gaudy numbers, Ben Wallace’s presence might have been the most important.

Keanu Reeves [to himself]: NO WAY!?!?

Keanu Reeves [to himself]: WAY!!!!

Many have actually underrated Wallace’s ability to make an impact since he’s fallen off from his “Fear the Fro” days as the league’s strongest defensive anchor. Part of this has to do with his regular season performances not living up to the huge contract he received after leaving the Pistons, and part of it has to do with younger, more athletic Bulls periodically making him look comparatively old and unimportant. Truth is, Wallace can still play playoff D and act as necessary a cog that battles down low. Case in point: the Cavs out-hustled Boston in game 1 and nearly won with BW on the floor despite LeBron’s 2-18, yet they didn’t stand a chance in game 2 without him. Never underestimate the power of grabbing loose balls or throwing a body on KG/Perkins/P.J.Brown/Powe.

Are the Celtics really Dr. Jekyll (clinical) at home and Rawhide (ass) on the road? If their fans are their b*tches, do they really suffer from chronic b*tch dependency? Was that last sentence just an excuse to link this video (NSFW)?

All these questions and more, answered tonight…