Cavs/Celtics Game 1 Recap
The elbow is just fine, thank you.
by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
Watching LeBron James come out with his right arm sleeved and padded, I thought he was going to dole out Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s signature move, The People’s Elbow, on whoever was checking him on D. And with Charles Barkley’s “One-Armed Man” assertions, I was reminded of Harrison Ford’s seemingly delusional declarations in The Fugitive of the one-armed man who killed his wife. It’s gotten so bad that the elbow has its own twitter: @LeBronsElbow.
But aside from Bron Bron’s much talked about joint, the real story was Mo Williams’ dunk on Paul Pierce in the third quarter. Who knew Mo could dink it like that? Apparently, only the King himself.
“I knew Mo could dunk,” James told the AP. “I told Mo a long time ago if he ever dunked in a game it was going to spark us like we haven’t been sparked before. Not only did it fire the team, it fired himself up.”
Mo’s fast break slam was the turning point of the game for the Cavs, who at the time were trailing 69-58.
“I saw him jump,” Williams told the AP. “Paul is 6-7, 6-8. I thought he’d block a layup. I was kind of high. I thought I could try. It turned out good. It was a great feeling, I’ll tell you that.”
Williams dropped 14 points on the Celtics in the third to help Cleveland get their first lead since the beginning of the game and helped seal the 101-93 win over Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Cavs’ come-from-behind victory overshadowed a tremendous effort by Rajon Rondo, who finished with a team-high 27 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.
The first quarter belonged to the Celtics thanks to Rondo’s dribble penetration. The Kentucky product was unstoppable going to the paint, setting up easy buckets for his teammates. He finished with nine points and four assists for the first 12 minutes. Despite scoring seven points, James started off favoring his right arm, even opting to slam home a fast break dunk softly with two hands. Shaquille O’Neal let Kendrick Perkins know he was in the house by splitting the man who never smiles’ lip. Perkins had to get five stitches to repair the damage, but checked back into the game in the second.
Rondo continued to have his way in the second, tallying 10 points and four dimes to help the visitors run out to an 11-point lead by the end of the quarter. Delonte West got it going for the home team with 8 points off the bench, including a nice two-handed dunk. James continued to play tentatively, scoring only six points for the period.
After the half, coach Mike Brown made an adjustment on D, putting Anthony Parker on Rondo to keep the lightning quick PG out of the paint. The move paid off for the Cavs, who used lock down defense and an explosive outburst from Williams’ to come roaring back into the ballgame. Ray Allen hit back-to-back long balls, but James started to come alive in the third and hit a triple of his own from the wing. The league MVP finished with 9 points in 12 minutes, including a Jordan-esque scoop shot at the buzzer.
The last 12 minutes of the game belonged to Cleveland. James’ elbow loosened up enough to bury two from behind the arc, including the dagger with 22 seconds left. The Cavs outscored the Celtics 22-15 with a little help from Shaq, who chipped in six points, including a running one-handed dunk on an assist from James. Paul Pierce got a lot of open looks at the basket, but couldn’t buy a bucket, going 1-5 in the quarter. Rondo continued to go to the cup but was sent to the deck on numerous occasions, including a “don’t come down here” foul by O’Neal.
This was a winnable game for the Celtics. They squandered it with bad shooting (Paul Pierce) and a poor defensive effort in the second half. If Boston wants to rebound in Game 2, they’ll need Pierce to bring “The Truth” and go off for at least 30. On top of that, he’s going to need to contain James on the defensive end. As for Cleveland, it was a smart move to let Mo Williams get in his “heat check” after his first ever dunk because when Williams has that confidence, he’s dangerous. And bad elbow or not, it’s a given that James will bring it in against the Celts. This is where LeBron is the most dangerous because he has an acute ability to find open teammates. The Cavs would also do well to utilize JJ Hickson and his insane athleticism more on Monday if they want to go up 2-0.
Prediction: Cavs win by at least six.