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NBA Playoffs Cavs Celtics Game 4: Rajon Rondo puts on a show while LeBron James doth defer too much

May 9, 2010, 6:03 PM EDT

rondo_james.jpgWe finally got a close one. And the Celtics finally have a hero besides Rajon Rondo.

Tony Allen came in and played a huge game for the Celtics, who evened the series at 2-2 after a 97-87 win in Boston. Allen had 18 points off the bench and finished consistently off Rajon Rondo’s drive and dish to take advantage of a doubling man-help Cavs defense. It was the performance the Celtics desperately needed with Paul Pierce continuing to play like he’s already headed for the sands of Las Vegas.

LeBron James had 19 and 8 assists, but also constantly deferred in the fourth quarter, passing up open looks over inferior defenders to opt for plays like Antawn Jamison threes (which he hasn’t hit), and Anderson Varejao 12 foot jumpers. You can imagine how that wound up.

Yet the Celtics found themselves only up 2 with less than four minutes to go.

Luckily for them, James kept passing,and Rajon Rondo took over. While James was passing in traffic to heavily defended big men who struggle to finish anyway, Rondo did everything you can imagine. Drove to the basket for runners off the glass, drove and dished to his bigs for wide open dunks, and got a clutch offensive rebound and putback to ice the game. The most memorable play will be a ball-fake in transition to freeze LeBron James on a chasedown block attempt. Rondo saw him coming, ball faked to get James in the air and dished behind him to a wide open trailer for a dunk. It was an incredible play, just one of the many we’ve seen from Rondo this postseason.

So now the Celtics find themselves right back in the series, and the Cavs know they just let an opportunity to drive the dagger slip through their fingers. There are things to take away from this game for both teams.

The Cavs learned that the they can take Kevin Garnett with Antawn Jamison’s quickness. Jamison’s perimeter game wasn’t falling, but he did have two massive jams off slow rotation and bad positioning by Garnett. They also learned that there’s a time and place for James to defer to his teammates and a time and place for the LeISO set that everyone criticized the Cavs for. And they learned that the Celtics will not be rolling over in this series.

The Celtics learned that Tony Allen is the player they’ve been searching for off the bench, and that if you aggressively double James off the pick and roll, you can force the Cavs into shots they can’t hit from players you want shooting. They learned that the gap between Rajon Rondo and the rest of the club is even wider than we thought, and that they don’t need Paul Pierce to win.

Game 5 is Tuesday and now we’re back to the Cavs facing a must-win. While Orlando finishes off the Hawks and will get to rest, these two will continue bloodying each other. This one’s going the distance, most likely.

  1. Tony - May 9, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    I am not sure how James alone can win this series.

  2. Dorcas - May 9, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    The cavs aren’t thirsty enough. they had a perfect opportunity and let it slip through there hands. what a waste

  3. LakersFan - May 9, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Even if LeBron manages to beat the Celtics, the Cavs won’t beat the Magic. Notice I said ‘if LeBron manages to beat the Celtics’, because frankly, the Cavs don’t play as a team and rarely run an offensive set. Thier half-court games blows.
    Lakers and Orlando in the final again.
    And what’s up with the Cavs coach leaving Shaw on the bench in the final 5 mins? He had 5 fouls, not 6, and should have been in the game. Dumb coach on a lackluster Cavs team. I use the word ‘team’, but they really aren’t a team at all. It’s just a one-man show and once again LeBron will cash in a season without a ring while Kobe goes for 5.
    Basketball is a team game and the Cavs haven’t figured that out.

  4. Doug - May 9, 2010 at 9:43 PM

    I pray that the Cavs will bring Z into the rotation for game 5. His mid-range game would have greatly increased the Cavs chance of winning today’s game.

  5. Bill-Sonora - May 10, 2010 at 12:16 AM

    Same story….All their effort in the regular season and tire out in the postseason. If they lose that is.

  6. Frank - May 10, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    Sad but true…LeBron WILL get his ring…next year…when he’s playing for the Lakers…and the Calves will slip back into obscurity…

  7. mike - May 10, 2010 at 2:09 AM

    This series should be 3-1 Boston, if Allan, Pierce, and KG come out in Game 5 and match half of Rondo energy there’s no way the Cavs can match up. I said it before, that sleeping green giant has woke up. Just bad timing for the Cavs who had trouble and got very lucky with Chicago, even if Lebron does something awesome and they end up winning this series no way can they beat a 8 day rested very fast run-and shoot Orlando Magic team.

  8. Xerxes - May 10, 2010 at 6:49 AM

    You got to wonder, is LeBron doing this on purpose? Hard to leave a team in free agency after you win a championship. But if you lose in the playoffs you can claim that team isn’t doing all that they can to win one and it makes it easier to leave. Sad that I think that, but they way he has played down the stretch has sucked. He can’t be tired, he sat most of the last two weeks of the season.

  9. D.Howard87 - May 10, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    Orlando will take it this year.

  10. Baby J - May 10, 2010 at 8:26 AM

    Who is Shaw?

  11. Joe - May 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    He can blame it on his elbow….
    the cavs will choke, so much for the “Big Playoffpolis” (shaq) and the crew. Everything runs via LBJ. If he’s not firing on all cylinders, the team won’t. The Celtics at least have a few that can fire it up. the Magic? oh my. even when DH sat in round 1 with foul issues, the team still swept, and even this series they had 4 players with over 20 points in a game.
    sorry folks… Cavs will come up short.
    Its interesting that if LBJ does leave, and if he doesn’t go to proven winner that is in the top tier, then what would he accomplish? Anotehr rebuilding? On the east, I think only the Cavs, Magic, Heat, Bulls would provide the best chance to slip in. Maybe the Celtics if they rid themselves of someone, but Doc might not be there next yr. But the Heat need to keep Wade for it to happen,a nd the Magic won’t take LBJ. Lakers? Won’t have the cash….

  12. Tom - May 10, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    all you lebron haters out there. the reason the cavs win big one night then the celtics the next, etc… is the needs for revenue by the league and owners. play 7 games instead of 4 or 5. players talent has nothing to do with playoffs. the only thing that matters to billionaire owners is cash influx.
    if you think anything else you are dilusional.
    signed: husband of a cavs employee.

  13. Kevin - May 10, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    “doth defer too much” LOL
    He was just shut down. They played him more physically and he didn’t get so many shots.

  14. FDJLakers - May 10, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    PLEASE don’t even suggest LeBron becoming a Laker next year! The thought turns my stomach. Even though I am a Die-Hard Laker fan, I think I would die very hard if that ever happened, for I could never cheer for someone like LeBron. He has a lot of skill, obviously, but very little class as a person!

  15. FDJLakers - May 10, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    PLEASE don’t even suggest LeBron becoming a Laker next year! The thought turns my stomach. Even though I am a Die-Hard Laker fan, I think I would die very hard if that ever happened, for I could never cheer for someone like LeBron. He has a lot of skill, obviously, but very little class as a person!

  16. Tim - May 10, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    What’s going on with Lebron’s elbow? Nothing show up with the MRI. Is he trying to pull a Paul Pierce? Getting as much attention as he can before the free agency?

  17. Anonymous - May 10, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    u crazy deer 3point game gunn cum up short on la bigs again repeat

  18. Kevin - May 10, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Shouldn’t die over it… he’ll help the team out like crazy.
    Not that the team needs much help. But he could save them from that defeat Suns will give them.

  19. Kevin - May 10, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Shouldn’t die over it… he could help the team out like crazy. It’d be classic Lakers (Shaq) all over again.
    Not that the team needs much help. But he could save them from that defeat Suns will give them.

  20. Bridesmaid - May 10, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Maybe Brown should coach the team instead of having Lebron make the calls.
    Cleveland has had enough great regular season coaches/managers and it looks like it is time to retire another one.
    Marty Schottenheimer, Lenny Wilkens, Mike Hargrove and now Mike Brown can get you to the doorstep, Brown & Hargrove even opened the door, but they just can’t seem to get past the lobby.
    How the Cavs can completely shut down the entire Boston team on Friday and come back and have the lead for no more than 5 minutes on Sunday lead me to believe that Mike Brown can’t make adjustments two games in a row and definitely can’t make proper in game adjustments.
    The game plan, have Lebron shoot early and often, if he makes the shots it will be a long game for the opponent, if he is off there seems to be no backup plan. Come back the next game and see if Lebron can get everyone else involved before he starts shooting. Is this because Boston adjusted so well or was it the game plan from the start?
    Don’t start Shaq and play the fast paced run and gun that was so successful when Shaq was hurt. All we keep hearing about is the aging Celtics, well run them around the floor early and often so the 3rd and 4th quarter are just a formality.

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