Cavs, Celtics (almost) fight it out

By: 03.07.09
Paul PiercePaul Pierce, Dime #5

The Celtics and Cavs are trying, but the NBA refuses to let us have a real physical, blood rivalry these days. Case in point: The foul that earned Big Baby a Flagrant-2 and an ejection in the third quarter would have been just a plain ol’ foul not too long ago — it was Cavs announcer/former buckets-dropper Austin Carr who said recently about hard fouls, “When I went to the basket, I expected that to happen.” In the middle of a close game that had a postseason atmosphere from the start, Big Baby took out Anderson Varejao with a high tackle that wasn’t THAT bad, and even the ensuing stand-and-stare “altercation” was kind of weak by old-school standards. The funniest part: LeBron (21 pts, 5 asts) reenacting The Watchmen and hurdling Varejao while sprinting to get in Big Baby’s face. Now, if the point is to protect your teammate, shouldn’t you actually protect him first instead of treating him like a speed bump? … The Celtics pulled away after Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were able to get loose in the second half; Pierce scored 21 of his 29 points after the break, and Ray scored all of his 17 points in the second half. In the first, it seemed Cleveland’s plan was to specifically stop those two, even if it meant conceding buckets inside to Boston’s bigs. In the second, though, Pierce and Allen each knocked down some threes and long twos after the Big Baby ejection, and Leon Powe (20 pts, 11 rebs) held it down with the Celtics running low on guys to play inside … Avery Johnson is the Muggsy Bogues of TV announcing: If he can do it, anybody can do it. We’re still trying to figure out who “Powell Pierce” and “Lee-Own Powe” are. Somebody needs to arrange a “PTI”-style show with Avery and Charles Barkley going back and forth for half an hour every day … Unfortunately for Anthony Parker, he can’t blame the refs for this one. D-Wade giving him 42 points (17-23 FG, 5-7 FT) had nothing to do with the refs not calling three-seconds, or even with the refs making Wade untouchable like it was the ’06 Finals again. Flash was simply hitting everything he threw up. With 45 seconds left and Miami up by six, he iced it with a jumper off-glass fading to his right toward the baseline. Very tough shot, and Wade made it look like a layup. Earlier in the game, Wade hit Parker with a step-back/spin move that cause AP to run for a few steps and fall down … Chris Bosh has been easy to overlook as of late, but he was a beast last night. He put up 34 points on an array of grown-man buckets, taking hits on his way to the rim and still finishing strong. It reminded us of way back when Bosh was in the ’09 MVP discussion, which seems like three years ago … Apparently ESPN’s Mark Jones just found out there’s an NBA team in Canada, ’cause he used about 10 years’ worth of Canada jokes while talking about Heat/Raptors. Actually, it was more like 152 versions of the same “They should have given D-Wade Canadian citizenship” joke. That guy is awful. You know it’s really bad when you start wishing for Stu Scott to take over …

Carlos BoozerCarlos Boozer, Dime #35

Don’t look now, but the Pistons are creeping up on home-court advantage in the first round. Last night’s win over Golden State was their fourth in a row, and now Detroit is only two games behind the fourth seed in the East. This was your classic balanced-offense Pistons clinic: Rip Hamilton (22 pts) and the starters were pretty much interchangeable with the backups, and both units kicked the Warriors’ asses … People need to learn not to sleep around Will Bynum. Over the last few games we’ve seen him pick guys clean in the open court multiple times, and yesterday he got Anthony Morrow for one of the three steals he collected in only 17 minutes … The votes are in, and Golden State’s Jermareo Davidson has knocked off Marquis Daniels for the Danny Fortson Award — given to the NBA player who, when you turn on a game, makes you think for a half-second, “Is that a girl?” Since Daniels dropped the yellow leg-warmers this season and got his hair more under control, Davidson now takes the crown with his pigtails … Of all the W’s the Jazz have racked up during their current 10-game win streak, Friday’s was the most impressive. Getting cracked in the first half and falling behind by as much as 19, Utah came back and beat the Northwest Division-leading Nuggets despite getting single-digit scoring from Carlos Boozer. During the 17-0 run that turned things around, the Jazz looked like a legit title contender with Deron Williams (25 pts, 11 asts) running the show … When they’re playing transition ball, and especially if it’s in front of the Utah crowd, the Jazz might be the most exciting team to watch in the League. You saw how Chris Paul carved up the Mavericks the other night, but Deron might even have him beat in terms of always making the right decision on the break; whether it’s feeding Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Miles for highlight dunks, hitting the shooters when they’re open, rewarding the big men or getting his own buckets, Deron rarely makes a bad call … Other notable stat lines from Friday: Dwight Howard went for 26 points and 15 boards against the Nets in a win; Ben Gordon dropped 34, seven assists and four steals in a win over Milwaukee; Kobe scored 23 and Pau Gasol scored 21 in a win over Minnesota; and Tony Parker had 19 points and seven assists against the Wizards, which doesn’t look like much until you realize he only played 16 minutes in a Spurs blowout … Originally billed as Shaq vs. Yao, Suns/Rockets turned into Steve Nash (32 pts, 13 asts) vs. Aaron Brooks (30 pts). Given Brooks’ quickness, you can guess how easy it was for him to get past Nash off the dribble, and he was sticking contested jumpers with a Chauncey-like confidence. After Nash tied the game late in the fourth with a three that bounced high off the rim before dropping in, Brooks hit the go-ahead bucket when he got a pick from Yao (15 pts, 13 rebs) up top, got a step on Shaq (17 pts, 5 rebs) turning the corner, and dropped a very Nash-like running scoop shot on Diesel with seven seconds left. The Suns ran the same play with Nash and Shaq on their last possession, but Nash missed a three with Yao’s hand in his face … And if falling three games out of the playoffs isn’t bad enough, the bad news keeps piling up for the Suns. According to one doctor, Amar’e won’t be coming back for the postseason (if they get there) … We’re out like NBA leg-warmers …

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