Celtics win Game 6, LeBron’s season is over

I’ll write more about the ramifications of Game 6 (94-85) tomorrow — for a preview check out this post — but needless to say, this was a huge win for the Celtics, in more ways than one.

This wasn’t your average, everyday conference semifinal win. The Celtics’ victory in this series not only means they’ll have a chance to play the Magic for an opportunity to play in the Finals, but it may have shifted the landscape of the NBA for the next decade.

How did they win? Defense.

Cleveland shot a miserable 38% from the field and turned the ball over 22 times. LeBron posted a triple-double (27-19-10) but missed 13-of-21 shots and turned the ball over nine times, the most TOs he has had since 2008 (also against the Celtics).

Mo Williams posted 22-7-4, but missed 10 shots and turned the ball over five times. Antawn Jamison went 2-for-10 from the field and didn’t justify the Cavs’ decision to trade for him in February. Shaq looked old and slow, but managed 11-5 and five fouls. In short, the Cavs newcomers were an epic failure.

The chemistry just wasn’t there for Cleveland. Everyone seemed to be pressing and when the game was on the line, LeBron deferred and his teammates missed shots. There were times late in the fourth quarter when the Cavs were trailing by eight or nine points and LeBron was retreating to half court when the shot went up instead of getting on the offensive glass. What good does getting back on defense do you when you need to score on every single possession to have a chance at winning the game?

Who was the hero for Boston? Rajon Rondo posted 21-3-12 with five steals and was coolly effective throughout the game. Kevin Garnett (22-12) was big in the first half and in the clutch, hitting turnaround after turnaround over Jamison. (In trading for Jamison, the Cavs were so concerned about matching up with Rashard Lewis, that they overlooked KG’s length in a potential matchup in the semis.) Lastly, I have to mention Tony Allen (10 points), who played excellent defense on LeBron throughout the night. I don’t think the C’s would have won the series without him.

Boston’s win is especially impressive considering that Ray Allen and Paul Pierce combined to go 6-of-21 from the field for 21 points. The Celtics were smart in the way they attacked the Cavs offensively. Aside from a couple of possessions, they didn’t force the ball to Pierce, who has trouble scoring on LeBron. Instead, they fed the ball to Garnett on the block and utilized Rondo on basket cuts.

As I was watching Game 5 and Game 6, I really could not believe what I was seeing. There was (seemingly) so much riding on the Cavs’ playoff run that it seemed inevitable that they would at least make the Conference Finals, but this early exit throws everything up in the air.

On the “good sportsmanship” front, it appears LeBron learned his lesson. He stopped and spoke with each of the Boston players, but he really didn’t let them say anything. It was a little forced, actually. He’d pull each guy in for a hug, say something into his ear and then he was on his way. It was like he was the Godfather or something. Listen to me as I say some motivational words.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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