Cavs/Celtics Game 3 Recap
LeBron goes off. And you were called for a foul for enjoying it.
You probably don’t want to read much more about this Cavs win this morning, and that’s entirely too bad. The sport’s best player looked like a loose tiger in a meat market. He could’ve had anything he wanted. LeBron James was hitting shots he had no business making all game long.
He wound up scoring 38 and his team won by 29. But you don’t care at all, and there’s a good reason for that.
The game got taken away from the players last night, again, and there was no reason for it.
You’ll see in the game notes below that the game immediately devolved into a bargaining squabble with the officials. The totals at the end don’t seem so jarring — Cleveland shot 34, Boston 29 — but Boston was allotted a lot of pity free throws when they were down by at least 25. Some of the calls early in the game had no justification whatsoever.
Instead of LeBron looking like a loose tiger in a meat market, we mostly saw Doc Rivers haggling over the price of whatever ground beef he could scrounge up. This sucks.
Not much is said about it, and there’s a good reason for that, too. Reporters have to protect their beats and, thus, be in good graces with the league, players and coaches. They don’t want to question the league for direct, obvious reasons.
It’s a little bit more complex with the players and coaches. They understandably feel baited when you ask them about the officiating. They are in fear of a fine that is always exorbitant and usually at least the cost of a Honda Civic. Asking coaches or players that kind of question affects their relationship with that reporter and almost always negatively.
The Boston Globe’s beat reporter Julian Benbow asked an officiating question to Doc Rivers, who didn’t want to answer it. A lot of veteran reporters scoffed. This, too, sucks.
After tiptoeing around it a little, Doc finally said something quotable.
“I think we are going to have to start sending more video (to the league), like they are, to see if that helps,” he said, but he shouldn’t have to do that.
The league has a problem and it’s insulting our intelligence that they refuse to even acknowledge something we plainly see very frequently: There is an ego and/or incompetence problem amongst officials that isn’t going away.
Doc also said this. (Mind you, it wasn’t about calls, it was about stops — the Cavs shot 60 percent from the floor — but it holds true just the same.)
“It’s tough to run when the other team is taking the ball out of bounds every single time,” Rivers said.
LeBron got out on the break twice tonight while the game was still contestable. The first time he was fouled by Kendrick Perkins. It was called a flagrant foul and no one was sure why.
The second time, he received a well-timed pass from Jamario Moon and threw down a sidewinding reverse dunk in traffic. It was one of the best contested finishes I’ve ever seen.
If this game had some flow, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome much. Maybe the Cavs would’ve won by 20. Maybe they would’ve won by 40.
But imagine what kind of show LeBron would’ve put on if this game flowed at all. You would’ve been wanting to read anything about it.
- They appear to be serving us a full live animal and calling it “Carved Steamship.” I guess, then, it might be some sort of aquamarine vessel? I’m eating it anyway. And it’s delicious.
- There is nobody here yet and it’s 7 p.m. sharp. This is weird for Boston during a pre-season game.
- Bobby Weir of the Grateful Dead is our anthem singer this evening. I’ve started a pool at press row to guess during which verse Weir will be taking a nap.
- En lieu of flowers, Weir accepts a large bouquet of Funyons as he walks off center court.
- Correction: There is nobody here, but it’s very, very loud.
- Update for @LeBronsElbow: In person, it looks fine.
- Second update for @LeBronsElbow: I’m not a CT Scan machine.
- LeBron is reacted to appropriately by the Boston fans. Loud boos but nothing creative that makes him question why he’s alive. You’re 0-for-2 tonight, Boston. Get it together.
- Right to Shaq in the post. He’s doubled on the touch and misses badly.
- Straight back to Shaq who is fouled by Garnett and makes both free throws. Kazaam. 2-0, Cavs.
- Shaq on a LeBron jumper put-back. If he’s feeling dominant, it’s going to be a long evening for Perk and Big Baby. Shaqisabeast.com. Followed immediately by an LBJ turnaround. 6-0 start for the Cavs.
- Two straight Rondo buckets. Please give him this team, Doc. You might not win a championship that way, but it’s probably your best bet, and we’ll all have fun in the process. 8-6, Cavs, all of a sudden.
- It’s still 1/4 empty here.
- True weaksauce, coddle-the-best-player-in-the-league flagrant called on Kendrick Perkins stopping a fastbreak layup. Just saw the replay and there’s no justification for the call whatsoever. Just two guys with momentum meeting at their peak. 14-8, Cavs. Are we going to have to have the talk again, NBA? Am I going to have to say the Dwyane Wade paragraph again?
- Yep, we are. LeBron is the recipient of a no-contact foul. Here goes: “Look. He’s the best player in at least ten years. He may be the best player ever. He does not need the officiating help. It’s embarrassing and makes the league look bad. You know when those White People who only watch hockey and grumble and eat solely meat, even between meals, and frequently say, ‘I don’t watch the NBA because it isn’t a contact sport. You’re not even allowed to use two hands to guard somebody?’ And you try to rebuke them, but then you watch a game like this with them. And there’s simply no defense. You just sit there speechless like an idiot. It makes us all look stupid. You’ve got to fix this. It’s a problem.” There. I said it.
- No contact again. Antawn Jamison has his Make-A-Wish come true! He is at the free throw line and no one knows why! Hopefully he’s not dying. 20-8, Cavs.
- An offensive foul is called and negates a Big Baby basket (plus a presumed and-1). This is getting to be rigoddamndiculous.
- LeBron hits a dirty fadeaway from the left corner. @LeBronsElbow update: He’s 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line. You must be on ice because damn you cold blooded!!!
- @LeBronsElbow I mean, really, you’re probably actually on ice. It’s a timeout.
- They call a defensive three-seconds on the Cavs. Loudest mock applause I’ve ever heard. The foul discrepancy will be 10-3 after the free throw. Both teams are driving to the basket, so you can’t make that argument. 27-15, Cleveland.
- The Cavs are up 29-15, shooting 66 percent and holding the Celtics to 31 percent shooting.
- Rondo takes a three from the elbow extended with 12 seconds left on the shot clock. It’s the first time I’ve seen him do that all year. Honestly. I have no idea why he just took that shot.
- Oh, he missed it. Did that needed to be said? He missed it badly.
- LeBron hits a layup and-1 (really — there was a lot of contact this time). He has 19 (!) through 10 minutes.
- Sweet Jesus. LeBron throws home a REVERSE JAM IN TRAFFIC. That was the first time that ever happened without some guy yelling “BOOMSHAKALAKA” out of a Super Nintendo.
- More mock applause, as Big Baby gets to the line for the first time after three no-calls over the course of the quarter.
- OK, let’s start an NBA Playoff Scoring Record watch for LeBron: He has 21 on 8-of-10 shooting through the first quarter. MJ holds the record with 63 in this building. Elgin Baylor is second with 61, also in this building.
- Truly shrewd coaching decision by Mike Brown putting a full-court press on Tony Allen’s point guard impression to start the half.
- Mike Finley drains a three on a fast break on one end. LeBron answers immediately, nailing a three over Pierce’s hand. Unbelievable.
- Big Baby is hacked by LeBron, but there’s no call. Andy V. isn’t hacked on the other end by Rasheed and there’s, obviously, a call. 41-23, Cleveland. It’s about as out-of-hand as the score suggests.
- A loud “Bullshit” chant overtakes the crowd. There’s a very weird energy in this building tonight, like they know something special is happening, and they also know it’s not totally on the up-and-up. I imagine this is what the starting line of the Running of the Bulls feels like.
- Text message from a friend: “Careful. If you get up fast, you will get a foul call.” So it is just as bad on TV.
- In the 7th minute (of the second quarter), LeBron will rest. They’ll roll with Williams-West-Parker for a while. He leaves with 24. He took one shot this quarter (that three) and he made it.
- It doesn’t matter who’s on the floor, the Cavs are dominating. Anthony Parker hits a stepback for two, then a kickout three on a feed from Shaq. 55-35. Doc Rivers’ halftime speech is going to look like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.
- Is that even still on the air? These are the questions you ask during 20-point games when LeBron isn’t in.
- KG is trying to take over. He quietly has 12 after two straight buckets. It’s going to take 2003 KG for a legitimate shot tonight. 57-39.
- Oh, look, LeBron is back in. And he scores immediately on his own putback. 59-39.
- Two more for the King on a rebound and floater. 63-41.
- 65-43 at the half. Cavs are shooting 61.5 percent. Boston is shooting 42.9 percent.
- Just saw Tommy Heinsohn in the media dining room with Mike Gorman. He looks, uh, displeased.
- Nice start for the Celtics. Perkins corrals a Rondo miss and tips in a layup, plus a foul.
- This is how magnificently quiet Ray Allen has been tonight: I didn’t just forget Ray Allen was on the floor, I forgot about the concept of Ray Allen as a human. He’s 1-of-6 after that missed 3.
- LeBron hits a 3. He has 34. Cavs lead 73-49. He won’t even break 40 if the Cavs continue at this rate of blowout.
- LeBron stares at RayRay for five seconds and decides to shoot it in his eye. It doesn’t matter. 36. 77-54.
- There are many audible boos after a free Mo Williams layup. It’s going to take an Iron Man 2-esque letdown (trust me on that one) from the Cavs for this one to even get close enough to be considered a game.
- LeBron does a triple-axle and lays in an alleyoop or his 38th point. 88-58. You’ve got to start wondering when they’re going to take him out of the game. You also have to start wondering if these two people to the left of me are watching Hulu during a playoff game. I would not blame them.
- Here comes NateRob! The firestarter! Could you be gracious and burn this place down for us, Nate? It would save us a lot of suffering.
- These game notes are gonna start to devolve very quickly.
- Nate hits a three then salutes the crowd. That is the military’s new motto, anyway: “Cool, now we’re only down 25.”
- LeBron and his elbow are still in.
- Anthony Parker is still doing his best Candace impression. He hits a fadeaway. He has 8 and hasn’t missed a shot.
- Nate hits a three. He has the potential to take over this game and the C’s might lose by double-digits.
- 96-70, Cavs. I will spend this following quarter eating my feelings.
- LeBron is still in the game. God knows why.
- This crowd kind of reminds me of a check-out line at a CostCo. Not sure the C’s can come back from this.
- Wait, I don’t mean this game. They have no chance of coming back in this game. I meant this: I’m not sure the Celtics can come back this series.
- Boston scores on two straight possessions. Cleveland calls timeout, presumably to laugh for a while and have some Fig Newtons.
- Another no-contact foul for LeBron. He’ll be going to the line. Yawn. Anybody wanna go see the new Banksy movie with me after this?
- Once again. Hahahaha. You have to laugh so you don’t cry.
- They T-up Kevin Garnett for holding the basketball. This is the loudest I’ve ever heard booing of my life.
- This is the loudest “Bullshit” chant I’ve ever heard.
- The mass exodus is at 6:38 in the middle of more Cavaliers free throws (rightful ones this time). It looks like moths heading towards a light in here.
- LeBron exits with six minutes left and a 32-point lead. His line is 38 points on 14-22 shooting (2-3 from 3, 8-9 from the line), 8 boards, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover and 2 loud blocks. He was +30 on the floor.
- Several hours later, it mercifully ended. 124-95.