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Celtics Thinking Attack in Game 2

(0-1) at (1-0)
Boston Celtics (0-1, 4-2) at Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0, 5-1)
Monday, May 3
8:00 PM ET
Round 2, Game 2
Game #7, Road Game #4
Quicken Loans Arena
Today's Referees: Dan Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Ed Malloy

Game Thread l Chat

The Celtics were the aggressive team in the first half of game 1 but their aggressiveness seemed to disappear in the second half. Going into game 2, the Celtics have to be thinking of the one that got away and realize that they have to be on the attack from the opening tip to the final buzzer. They must do a better job of handling the Cavs' pressure, a better job of rebounding and taking care of the basketball and a better job of attacking the basket. They also must keep their defensive pressure up for 48 minutes. The Cavs will take advantage of any let downs as they did on Saturday.

The Celtics now have to bounce back from a tough loss in game 1 and focus on trying to get a split in Cleveland. They have some positives to take away from the first game. KG played very well. They showed that they can play with the Cavs when they play their game. In the first half we saw Celtics defense and team play and they were up by 11 at the half.

But as has happened all too often this season, in the third period, they got away from their defense and got away from the team play. The ball stopped moving and they allowed way too many easy baskets for the Cavs. A big part of the problem was the fact that many of the Celtics were in foul trouble and it is hard to maintain aggressiveness when you are trying not to pick up your 4th or 5th foul.

The Celtics have to realize that they won't get calls, especially in Cleveland, and they need to keep playing regardless. They can't let bad calls or no calls take them out of their game as they did in game 1. The foul trouble and the lack of calls added to it, but the Cavs upped their intensity and the Celtics didn't match it. They let the Cavs' defense take them out of their game. Celtics stopped being aggressive. They stopped going to the basket and settled for jumpers that weren't falling. They must do a better job of keeping their focus and playing their game regardless of what the refs or the Cavs do.

The Celtics are saying the right things and talking about looking at this game as if it was a game 7. But they said the same thing before game 4 of the Heat series and then didn't deliver. The Celtics have to get this game if they hope to take the series. Only 2 Celtic teams have come back to win after losing the first game on the road and one of those wins was in 2001 and the other was the 1969 team that went on to win the championship. Last year, the Celtics opened both series with a loss at home and came back to win game 2 in both series. Hopefully, they can accomplish the same feat on the road in this series.

Probable Starters

Rajon Rondo/ Ray Allen/ Paul Pierce/ Kevin Garnett/ Kendrick Perkins

Probable Starters

Mo Williams/ Anthony Parker/ LeBron James/ Antawn Jamison/ Shaquille O'Neal

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo 14.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 10.2 APG, +22.6
Mo Williams 15.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 5.2 APG, +13.8
In Game 1, Rondo had 27 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. Williams put up 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Rondo began the game very aggressive on both ends of the court and he got the Celtics off to a good start. But when he was forced to the bench with foul trouble, Mo Williams went on a scoring streak to get the Cavs back into the game. This wasn't the first time that the Celtics have gotten burned by Mo Williams getting hot late in the game. They have to do a better job of defending him to keep this from happening again. The Celtics need Rondo to be aggressive again in this game but he had to try to stay out of foul trouble and not allow Mo Williams to find his stroke.

Paul Pierce 19.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, +18.2
LeBron James 31.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 8.2 APG, +38.6
In Game 1, Pierce got off to a good start but seemed to struggle once hs picked up a couple quick fouls. He finished with 13 points (5-17) and was just 1-6 from beyond the arc. He also had 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 turnovers. LeBron on the other hand put up 35 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks with his boo boo elbow. There is nothing wrong with LeBron's elbow. On at least 2 occasions I saw him clear space by shoving said elbow into the chest of a Celtic. He also never hesitated or had any limited movement in it. Hopefully the Celtics realize that by now. The Celtics must get a better game from Pierce both on offense and on defense in order for the Celtics to win. Shooting 29% from the field just won't get it done. When his shot isn't falling he must take it into the paint and not continue to settle for outside shots.

Honorable Mention
Kevin Garnett 15.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, +21.5
Antawn Jamison 19.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, +20.4
If there was one bright spot in game 1 for the Celtics, it was the play of Kevin Garnett. He looked healthy and his lift was back, as was his lateral movement on defense. He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks. He also played great defense on Jamison who finished with 7 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks. The Celtics will need more of the same from KG and hopefully the other two stars will come through with better play to back him up.

Players to Watch
The Celtics will depend on Big Baby and Tony Allen to give them energy off the bench and to give them a boost when the starters get a rest. Big Baby will need to crash the boards and keep Varejao from getting so many easy rebounds and put backs in this game.

Varejao and West are the Cavs energy guys. The Cavs depend on both to give them a lift on both ends of the court. Varejao had 6 rebounds in game 1, 4 of which were on the offensive end

Keys to the Game
Defense Defense wins championships, period. The Celtics did a great job of playing their style of defense in the first half, but when the Cavs came back with some tough defense of their own, the Celtics abandoned theirs. The Celtics must play tough defense from start to finish. They have to get stops and not try to outscore the Cavs, which they won't be able to do.

Rebound The Celtics must do a better job on the boards. They have to chase down rebounds and box out to get them rather than settle for the ones that come to them. The rebounds in game 1 were even at 41, but in the first half, the Celtics out-rebounded the Cavs and they were up by 11. But in the second half, the Celtics allowed the Cavs to get 2nd and 3rd chances at the basket. Especially when Shaq is getting several tries at the basket, they have to foul him and make him earn it on the line. Don't give the Cavs easy tip ins.

Take Care of the Ball
The Celtics had 16 turnovers to just 11 for the Cavs. The Cavs were able to turn those 16 turnovers into 23 points. The Celtics only got 10 points off of the Cavs' 11 turnovers. They have to take better care of the ball and limit their turnovers. Without those 13 extra points that the Cavs got from the Celtics turnovers, the Celtics win the game in spite of everything else.

Play Hard for 48 Minutes The Celtics must play hard for 48 minutes. They can't afford to let up or the Cavs will make them pay for it. In the first half, they played hard on defense and were aggressive in going to the basket but as has happened too many times this season, after the half, they let up on defense and then stopped passing the ball and allowed the Cavs to get back into the game and take the lead. They must focus and play team ball for 48 minutes. No let ups.

Bench Production - In game 1, the Cavs bench definitely out played the Celtics bench. The Cavs reserves put up 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists while the Celtics bench only produced 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 assist. Doc has given Sheed an ultimatum that he must play better and has mentioned that Shelden is ready to play if Sheed isn't. I'm not sure how long Sheed's leash is, but hopefully not too long because the Celtics must get more from their bench if they want to win this series.

Officials and Focus
The officials favored the Cavs enough in game 1 that even Cavs fans were amazed by it. The Celtics will get more of the same in game 2 and they can't let that be an excuse to lose. If they focus on playing their game and especially on playing defense, the Celtics can win in spite of how the game is called. Good teams focus on their game and don't allow the officials to become a distraction. If the Celtics do that, they have a good chance to win this game.

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