Shock? Sadness? Disappointment? All three of those words apply to the general feeling in Cleveland today. A city that has been hit with so many heartbreaking sports defeats has suffered their latest. Last night, the Boston Celtics eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers from the NBA Playoffs with a 94-85 win in the TD Garden. Behind another fantastic performance from point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics were once again able to extend a close halftime lead and make the James Gang play a game of comeback.
Early, Cavaliers looked like an improved team from the squad that took the court in game 5. LeBron was more aggressive, Mo Williams had his best outing of the series, and Anderson Varejao frustrated the Celtics with his scrappy play. Even with this improved play, Cleveland committed several costly turnovers that usually translated to points for Boston off Rajon Rondo fast breaks. Despite the fact that Cleveland still didn’t look much like the team that secured the NBA’s best regular season record, they were only down 2 at the half. A very manageable margin for the Cavs.
That proved to be true when Cleveland reclaimed the lead to start the second half on a Shaq layup and Anthony Parker three-pointer. The lead was short-lived though, as Boston got big plays from Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett to push their own lead to 12 with 2:15 left to play in the 3rd. Cleveland started the 4th quarter with a 9 point deficit to make up, which was quickly cut to 4 when LeBron hit back-to-back pull up three-pointers. There was an eerie feeling in the building as if a sleeping giant had awoken. However, the Celtics showed championship resilience, weathered LeBron’s storm, and pushed the lead back to 14. When all was said and done, the Celtics won by a 94-85 margin and started mentally preparing for an Eastern Conference Finals showdown with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
For LeBron, this summer will be career defining. As Nick pointed out yesterday, his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers is now finished. Will he stay in Cleveland and try to bring a NBA championship back to his hometown? Will he bolt to New York to play under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden? Will he take his show to Chicago, and try to follow in the legendary footsteps of Michael Jordan? Is there an unexpected destination that will surprise us all? Stay tuned. This one is far from over, folks.
images via Yahoo