Coming into the playoff series against Boston, Cleveland was heavily favored to win, and rightfully so. The Celtics are very young and inexperienced in post-season play (albeit hungry and ferocious), while the Cavaliers had experience, power, and the drive to win. On paper, it didn’t seem like Boston should give Cleveland many problems and that was the case…for the most part.
The first two games in Cleveland went well for the Cavs. Both times the Celtics started off hot, pinning the Cavaliers with quick bursts of offense in the first half. Both times they were overwhelmed by a superior Cavaliers offense. The Celtics did not have enough talent to keep up with the Cavaliers over 4 quarters. They knew it, the Cavs knew it, and everyone who watches basketball knew it. So Boston tried a different approach when the series shifted back to their court.
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote before game 2 a scathing complaint about the city of Cleveland and how the Cavaliers drop confetti after wins. That sent the Cleveland fanbase into rage mode and didn’t sit well with the Cavaliers either. Jae Crowder of the Celtics also started saying how he didn’t feel the Cavaliers were an intimidating team. Just typical trash talk that comes with playoff basketball. The tension between the two clubs was getting intense. It all popped off like a champagne cork in Game 3.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said about Kevin Love. In Game 4, Kelly Olynyk dislocated Love’s shoulder on a very questionable play. He denies it was intentional, but it still looked very suspect and earned him a one game suspension. It was a play that infuriated me. We had lost a key component to our playoff run because of that and now Love is out 4-6 months. The Cavs had enough of Boston’s dirty play. J.R. Smith backhanded Jae Crowder in his face and he dropped to the court, earning Smith a two game suspension. Normally I don’t condone that kind of stuff, but I understood it. You push a man too far and sooner or later he’s gonna push back (Max Payne quote, shhhhh) and that’s what the Cavaliers did. It’s an attitude they need to carry into the next series. I wanted to talk about how impressed I was with the Celtics play and their coach Brad Stevens. But I won’t. I just want to leave this series in the rearview.