LeBron poses tough test for Boston; NCAA Selection fallout

03.15.10 8 years ago 20 Comments

All week long, we’ve been saying Sunday’s game at Cleveland was a crucial test for the Celtics. Win or lose (seeing as it’s tough for anybody to win in LeBron‘s gym), the most important thing would be how much fight Boston had in them. So on that level, you can’t be too disappointed if you’re a Celtics fan; they hung in there well into the second half before LeBron (30 pts, 8 rebs, 7 asts, 3 blks) become too much down the stretch … Midway through the third quarter, Boston was up by one and Paul Pierce (18 pts) appeared to be heating up, but then LeBron scored eight of Cleveland’s next 14 points in the quarter, and Leon Powe became a foul magnet and converted at the line. Up eight going into the fourth, LeBron scored 11 more as the Cavs won by double-digits … One huge factor was Cleveland’s bigs — namely Antawn Jamison (15 pts, 12 rebs), Anderson Varejao (17 pts, 10 rebs), Powe and J.J. Hickson — were simply more active than Boston’s. Those guys can all run and when they cut to the rim and went hard for rebounds, they left the C’s in the dust. KG (18 pts, 7 rebs) and Rasheed know how to play, but knowing where you should be and actually getting there are two different things … Was Jeff Van Gundy seriously arguing with Mark Jackson over Isiah Thomas‘ ability as a passing point guard? JVG said Isiah doesn’t deserve to be in the same conversation with Magic, Stockton, Kidd and even LeBron as a great passer. Never mind that Isiah averaged 10-plus assists four times in his career, retired averaging 9.3 dimes per game, and led the League with 13.4 apg one season. We’re gonna trust Jackson — the guy who ranks THIRD ALL-TIME in assists — when he says Isiah is one of the game’s greats at distributing the basketball … What’s eating Carlos Boozer lately? On Friday he basically gave the Jazz/Bucks game away when he lost his head after a no-call in the final seconds and got two costly technicals. Last night, toward the end of a solid 18-point, 11-board outing in Oklahoma City, Booz’s temper again cost his team. With about five minutes remaining and OKC up by nine, Booz missed an easy layup — one of a few gimme shots he missed on the night — but thinking he got fouled, screamed at the ref and got T’d up. After Kevin Durant (35 pts, 13-13 FT) hit the technical free throw and Jeff Green got an and-one dunk on the ensuing possession, the Thunder were up 13 and that was pretty much it … One of our writers has predicted Deron Williams vs. Derrick Rose will become the NBA’s must-see PG matchup, but how about D-Will vs. Russell Westbrook? If they stay in the Northwest they’ll meet up four times a year instead of two, and if the Thunder keep progressing, will battle it out for several division titles. Yesterday Williams had 27 points and 14 dimes, while Westbrook had 30 and 11 and got the W …

Stephen Jackson

The way the playoff seeding is shaking out, we could get a Magic/Bobcats matchup in the first round. Dwight Howard has a history of destroying the ‘Cats, but this version won’t be an easy out. Yesterday they met in Orlando, and even without Gerald Wallace (ankle), Charlotte snapped the Magic’s eight-game win streak. Dwight got his numbers, finishing with 27 points and 16 boards, but every time Orlando got within a bucket or two in the second half, it seemed Stephen Jackson (28 pts) answered with a three or a drive … Mickael Pietrus passed the “Skipped a haircut after a long road trip” stage a while ago, and now he’s moving beyond “mini-fro” stage. He’s obviously working on something long-term here. Braids? A flattop? A Gumby? Seeing Pietrus with a Gumby for the playoffs would be hilarious … Other stat lines from Sunday: Amar’e Stoudemire had 36 points and 12 rebounds to lead Phoenix past the Hornets; Tyreke Evans barely missed another triple-double, hanging 29 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists on the Wolves in a Sacramento win; Andrew Bogut had 17 points, 12 boards and 3 blocks as Milwaukee beat Indiana; Dwyane Wade posted 38 points (14-25 FG) and 5 steals in Miami’s win over Philadelphia that included a Jermaine O’Neal/Sam Dalembert fight that was better than Pacquiao/Clottey; and Toronto lost while watching LaMarcus Aldridge go for 22 points and 13 boards and Brandon Roy score 20 in the What You Missed Out On Invitational in Portland … Question: Considering how Hedo Turkoglu has played this season, why were the Blazers fans booing him? If anything, they should give him a standing O for allowing them to use that money on Andre MillerThe NCAA Tournament field is set. Not many arguments on the seeding — although Washington getting a No. 11 after winning the Pac-10 tourney is a bit low — but Mississippi State getting snubbed was flat-out wrong. Going 23-11 overall and 9-7 in the SEC isn’t easy, and while MSU performed below expectations this season, they just played Kentucky down to the wire literally a couple of hours before the Selection Show and they have the best defensive player in the country. Unless the Bulldogs are just crushed mentally, they’re going to reign holy terror on the NIT … And if you’re looking for a potential 16-over-1 historic upset, keep an eye on Vermont vs. Syracuse. T.J. Sorrentine lives … We’re out like Jarvis Varnado

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