By Shirley Coshatt
This was an ugly game from the start as even the jump ball was no good and had to be thrown up a second time. It was a defensive struggle right from the beginning with neither team shooting the ball well. Paul Pierce missed his first five shots before hitting a jumper with 1:10 left in the first quarter. He finished the quarter with 4 points on 2-7 shooting. Doc finally gave Eddie House a chance and he immediately made a difference, hitting a jumper soon after entering the game to tie the game at 18 to end the first quarter.
Doc started the second quarter with PJ Brown, Ray Allen, Big Baby Davis, James, Posey and Eddie House on the court and this lineup went on a 7-1 run including a 3 by Eddie House and a nice feed inside to Big Baby for a dunk. The Celtics took their biggest lead at 31-25 with 6:12 left in the half. But, the Cavs came back and from that point, the Cavs went on a 17-2 run to end the half including a steal and last second 3 by Delonte West at the buzzer to end the half with the Cavs up 42-33.
In the third quarter, the Cavs picked up where they left off with 6 quick points by LeBron James to push the lead to 48-33. The Celtics had missed 15 shots in a row before Ray Allen finally scored on a put back of his own miss. It was a game of runs as the Celtics then went on a 13-0 run to cut the lead to 3 points with 2:20 left in the period. But the Cavs pushed the lead back up to 59-50 going into the final period.
The Celtics continued to play hard and pulled to within 5 at 72-67 with 1:17 left in the game. It was at this point that the officiating took over and the Celtics didn’t have a chance. On the next play, Ilgauskas missed a jumper and Pierce rebounded and was driving to the basket when LeBron stepped in front of him. Ignoring the fact that LeBron was still moving and was going for a steal, the refs called a charge on Pierce. As Tommy said after the game, the ref should be prosecuted for making such a bad call. On the next possession, Pierce got a rebound and passed it ahead to Ray who went in for a layup which was clearly goal tended but the refs didn’t call it. They did call a foul and Ray hit the free throws to cut the lead to 72-69. Joe Smith caught the ball on the inbounds pass and landed with both feet, he then immediately pivoted his right foot and shifted his left foot forward, finally dribbling after planting his left foot, which was 3 or 4 steps and clearly a travel, but they instead called a foul and he hit both free throws for the final score of 74-69.
The Cavs shot 25 free throws to just 13 for the Celtics. In many of the games, the Celtics weren’t aggressively taking the ball to the basket and so didn’t get the calls but in this game, the Celtics were getting inside and were getting fouled, but just weren’t getting the calls. Usually the officiating won’t make a difference, but in this game it absolutely did. Even the ESPN announcers were commenting on those three bad calls in the last minute.
The Celtics shot 40% for the game while holding the Cavs to 33% but the difference in the game, besides the officiating, was on the boards. The Cavs had 45 rebounds to 37 for the Celtics and they out rebounded the Celtics by 9 on the offensive end.
Kevin Garnett had a good game as he scored 25 points on 11-21 shooting to go with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, but the rest of the Celtics didn’t come through. Paul Pierce shot just 5-15 for 16 points along with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 turnovers. After Rondo’s huge game 5, he struggled in this one. He scored just 2 points but did pull down 5 rebounds and dish out 5 assists. Filling in at the point behind Rondo, Eddie House did a good job with 8 points on 3-5 shooting along with 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 18 minutes. Ray Allen once again struggled with his shot going 3-8 from the field and finishing with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
Perk spent much of the game in foul trouble and finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in 26 minutes. Doc once again used Big Baby as back up behind Perk and that is very puzzling since Leon Powe was playing so well earlier in the series. This may be one of Doc’s more baffling moves. Big Baby was just 2-8 with most of those misses being layups. In fairness to him, though, he was mugged on most of those layups with no calls from the refs. P.J. Brown played 8 minutes and finished with just 1 rebound on this stat sheet. James Posey didn’t score but played his usual steady game on defense and finished with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal.
The series now shifts back to Boston for the Celtics second game 7 in as many series. The game will be at 3:30 on Sunday. The Celtics have never lost a series when being up 3-2 and we can only hope that streak doesn’t end now. Hopefully the Celtics will get some of the calls they didn’t get tonight or it is going to be very tough for them to win, even at home.