The Celtics upped the physicality in this game. Early on Jonas Jerebko gave Kyrie Irving a hard foul to prevent the and-one. Evan Turner basically tackled a driving LeBron James, earning himself a flagrant 1 foul. Jae Crowder plowed into James off the ball another time, getting a foul called on him. And there was some jawing and shoving during and between plays as well.
Basically, as promised, these guys are not going to be intimidated by the Cavs.
"It’s the playoffs. It’s physical. Both guys are trying to give their best punch and we’re just fighting, so it’s going to be like that," Crowder said. "I felt like the game was physical, but that’s what I expected it to be. That’s what I think it will be Sunday as well."
With that said, the coach wasn't liking the Celtics poise.
"The bottom line tonight was we didn’t play with any poise," Stevens said. "I don’t know if it was the terrific environment in there, if we were just ‘ I don’t know if it was down 0-2, I don’t know what they deal was, but I thought they really played with poise and in control; we did not. And I thought that was the biggest difference in the game. Our effort was great, we played really hard, but we’ve got to play better. We’ve got to play better. And we’ve said it over and over. It’s an eight-point game at the end of the day, and there’s so many possessions that we threw away."
This emphasizes what Kevin O'Connor wrote about in terms of getting the little things right. Those 2nd chance points for the Cavs killed the Celtics and those are missed opportunities this team can't afford.
I can't help but wonder if the physicality led to the lack of poise. I thought the Celtics played hard and refused to back down. Those are great things. But maybe the focus on being physical took them away from their strong points of execution and spacing.
When the margin for error is zero, so all it takes is one thing to throw things out of balance and swing the game in favor of the team with more talent. Obviously the Celtics can't back down physically, but they need to make sure they are staying within themselves as well.