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Despite the vastly increased margin of victory, Game 2 of Celts-Cavs offered quite the pleasant redux of the Celtics' bench's efficacy from Game 1.
The Celts may have cruised through the second half, but once again, it was a group of reserves who sparked the turn in momentum when the game was tight.
On Tuesday night, as was documented in this space, it was the two-headed monster that is the SamPosium that gave the Celts that extra oopmh. Sam Cassell took care of knocking down his shots, and, and James Posey was all over just the right places for the Celtics, just as he seems to have been all season.
The SamPosium was out in force once more in last night's blowout Game 2 victory.
Like him or not, Cassell got the job done once more. Even though the shooting numbers (4-for-12) from the field weren't great, he gave the team a needed energy spark when times looked rough early, and he ran the offense with control and precision for much of the night in place of a struggling Rajon Rondo. No turnovers, a plus-16 rating and the fact that he played some actual defense all served SamIAm quite well.
Posey probably deserves his own column after last night's game, given that he was the guy for the Celtics off the bench (and one of the team's best players in general). The guy to lead the coverage schemes against LeBron. The guy to get the big steal. The guy to grab a few rebounds and hit a few shots. The guy to give his team an unfair advantage on all 50-50 balls simply by being on the court, because he wants it so much. That's James Posey, and that's the guy who is still estabishing himself as my favorite player on this team. Nobody held a candle to him off the bench last night.
But while Posey might have been in a realm of his own, it was clear that there was another individual working to seal his place inside the SamPosium last night. He certainly did his part, and it doesnt hurt that we can throw him right into the program without changing the pronounciation of the Samposium either -- just the spelling.
It seems like the sort of thing we've been saying all year about this Celtics team, but Leon Powe put on yet another performance that went beyond the individual stats for the boys in green.
The numbers weren't too shabby for to begin with: 4-for-7 from the field, 11 points and 7 boards in an extended 28 minutes, played largely in place of starting center Kendrick Perkins, who had a rough night on all fronts. Powe had his usual supply of dunks, lay-ins and a couple of trips to the foul line on tough takes to the basket.
But as is often the case, it was the Oakland product's work ethic above all that made him stand out. The power forward not typically known for being a great defender had one of his best nights at that end of the floor. He did give up the requisite couple of baskets to bigger players inside, but he also did a very passable job of moving effectively through the rotations in the Celtics' defensive scheme all night. He stayed in the lane to prevent easy takes for LeBron and generally did a good job gaining the right position with his footwork. On one particular play, the slower Powe wound up guarding LBJ at the top of the circles as a result of a switch, usually the sort of situation that would spell disaster for the C's. Instead, Powe stayed true to the scheme, gave LeBron a step of space, moved his feet to keep James in front of him and forced the Cavs' star to take a deep jumper from the outside -- exactly the sort of shot that Celts are looking to make him take throughout this series.
The desire was there on the offensive end of the floor as well. The kid who came from nothing out west knows more than a bit about the importance of making the most of opportunities both on and off the court, and he showed it again last night. James Posey may be the rightful king of the 50-50 ball, but Powe made his mark on the offensive glass as well. It was that superior work ethic and will to that of the Cleveland defenders that allowed him to routinely get that extra step on loose balls in order to poke the ball out of an oncoming defender's reach or directly to a waiting Celtic out on the perimeter. On the offensive end, just getting that initial tap to keep the play alive is often more than half the battle. Though it will never show up in the box score, it seemed as though Leon was routinely getting the Celtics extra opportunities through back taps.
Like Cassell and Posey -- and like he has done all year -- Leon Powe came to play his usual brand of blue-collar basketball last night. He brought his own infectious energy on both ends of the court and played a crucial role in spelling the bigs and helping turn a deficit into a comfortable lead. The plus-20 in the box score is a nice start, but it doesn't go far enough in assessing Powe's value to the green last night -- or in general this season.
It may well be time to start calling this team's big three bench threats by an even more apt name: SamPo(we)sium.