CLEVELAND, Ohio – While acknowledging the quality of the opponent is different, Boston’s Gerald Green says the Celtics have “been in this situation before.”
That statement should send historians scrambling to determine how it’s even possible the 2017 Celtics were also on the losing side at Little Bighorn.
Boston hasn’t been here before and survived. Certainly not like this.
The Celtics trailed 0-2 to Chicago. This isn’t that. That was a relative picnic in the park.
The Cavaliers have been so amazingly efficient and sharply focused they have turned the conversation away from the deficiencies of the East to the growing power of the Beast.
Ty Lue’s team no longer looks like the best of a bad lot as it did during the regular season. The Cavs have won 13 consecutive playoff games now, three of those against That Team Out West.
This isn’t about conferences if it ever was about conferences. Only one team in the West could survive these Cavs in a playoff series, and it’s not the Rockets or Spurs.
Unfortunately, Cavs-Warriors can’t begin until June.
In the meantime, it’s not a nitpick to say the Cavs haven’t patched all their holes defensively.
The Celtics, for instance, had a thousand open jumpers in Game 1 and seemed to miss 999 of them.
It’s more accurate to say the Cavs have become such a marvel offensively that the Celtics are rushing shots, knowing each miss is potentially a four-point or five-point tradeoff.
Boston misses a two. The Cavs make three. Boston misses three. The Cavs get a layup at the other end.
You could see that early in Game 2 when 12-10 became a double-digit Cavs lead in a matter of a minute or so.
If you’re going to challenge LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the perimeter or handle Kevin Love in the post, you had better employ a rim protector.
If you’re going to limit the Cavs scoring chances, you had better be able to rebound.
If you’re going to double team James, you had better challenge the three-point shot.
The Celtics can’t do any one of those without being more vulnerable in the other two pursuits.
The Cavs are a matchup nightmare for Boston.
That won’t be the case against the Warriors. Not like this anyway.
But there’s no reason to think the Warriors feel especially good about their chances of avenging last year’s Finals loss.
It doesn’t have to be quite what we’ve seen in Boston these first two games to imagine the defending NBA champs bringing another parade to downtown.
* So LeBron James didn’t finish in the Top Three in MVP voting.
“My only job is to try to be the MVP for this team every night, put my teammates, put our franchise in position to be successful and ultimately compete for a championship,” James told reporters following the 130-86 blowout win Friday.
“For me, I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table. That’s for you guys to write about. It’s not for me to be concerned about.”
In fact, the media is not only writing about it. Some seem unusually insulted over the MVP vote.
Even though MVP is a regular season award that has nothing to do with how great James has been in the playoffs, or James Harden’s collapse, or Russell Westbrook‘s quick postseason exit.
Even though some in the media spent most of that regular season understandably and accurately talking about the Cavs as underachievers.
* The Cavs are so versatile and talented offensively, I can’t think of a better time for David Griffin to be negotiating a new contract.
Unless it was while riding on a parade float last summer.
* Isaiah Thomas said after Game 1 the Celtics aren’t afraid of the Cavs, that they’re “not the Monstars.”
He is now believed to be re-watching Space Jam.
* Charles Barkley in a recent appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert carried over a friendly bet he won against Colbert in last year’s NBA Finals.
They bet a round of golf. Colbert took the Warriors.
Barkley suggested making it two rounds of golf while adding, “I’m still going against the Warriors.”
“LeBron is going to be soft,” Colbert said. “Because he’s already got it.”
“No,” said Barkley. “LeBron’s not soft. He’s a lot of things but soft isn’t one of them.”
I think we can assume if Barkley is picking against the Warriors in the Finals it’s not because he likes the Celtics chances.
* Barkley also said he would like to travel the country cutting man buns off unsuspecting heads.
But that’s not why Kelly Olynyk is playing this series with his head on a swivel.
He is playing in this series, right?