Cleveland-Boston, Again

In N.B.A. Basketball by Brock Bourgase

Based on the most miniscule sample, I can report that nothing has changed in the Association’s Eastern Conference. Cleveland is too one-dimensional to be a threat to seize the championship and Boston – when healthy – should prevail in the post-season. The two sides clashed last night; the former was incredibly cavalier in their execution and the latter performed superbly under pressure.

Cleveland’s side-out consisted of a player coming to the ball and handing off to LeBron James, who would then attack one on three. Cavalier guards made five out of fifteen three-point shots when the defence collapsed. However, it was not a case of a missed shot after a penetrate and kick that led to the missed opportunity. Shaquille O’Neal is no help; whereas Zydrunas Ilgauskas could shoot, Shaq clogs the paint when LeBron wishes to post-up a mismatch. Cleveland still lacks a shut-down defender who can handle the pressure (Trevor Ariza?).

What can one add about Boston that hasn’t been said by pundits already? The Celtics are a talented team – when healthy – and play their best in clutch situations. Kevin Garnett executed a beautiful spin move, the guards could enter the paint and get to the line at will, and Paul Pierce was his usually self. I cannot believe how slowly and awkwardly Cleveland defended (how can a professional team play that way in 2009?). Shaq hedged on a screen but moved so slowly that Pierce was able to easily cut back, split the defenders, and score. The squad is on it’s own level in the East – when healthy.

Nevertheless, age and injury prove to be persistent predators…