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NBA Playoffs Celtics Cavs Game 5: Celtics dominate as LeBron James fails in the big time

May 11, 2010, 10:05 PM EDT

James_Oneal.jpgIf it’s true that the sports Gods hate the city of Cleveland, Ohio, tonight was an especially delectable act of maliciousness by the deities.

The Boston Celtics walked into Cleveland, dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers outside, and executed them as if they were a lottery team, 120-88.

LeBron James had 15 points on only 3 of 14 shooting, in what many will consider the worst single performance by an elite player in playoff history. James was defended, well, no doubt. The Celtics had plans for simply everything the Cavaliers tried to do. But James also simply missed everything. He was timid, constantly deferring in the first quarter, which set him up to be simply frozen. It was a rather pathetic performance from the MVP of the league, there’s just no way around it.

Meanwhile, this Celtics team looked very much like the championship team from 2008, simply unstoppable from every angle. They cut off every penetration angle, had huge performances from Ray Allen (25 points), and in the second half, Rajon Rondo (16 points, 7 assists), and the bench showed up as well. But Paul Pierce was the story, finally coming out of his slump to draw 21 points.

For Cleveland, the reality sets in that this may have been the last time Cavs fans see LeBron James in a Cavaliers uniform. This wretched performance may be the last time they see James as a member of their team, especially as the rest of the squad Danny Ferry assembled to support James consistently failed at every angle. Mo Williams could not light it up like he did in Game 1, and his defense on Ray Allen was simply laughable. Antawn Jamison was not the Rashard Lewis type stretch four they hoped. And Shaquille O’Neal had 21points, on 11 shots. They forced the ball to the old big guy time and time again, apparently thinking he was the way to salvation.

The Cavs went away from everything that has produced wins for them against Boston this season. Running and gunning? The Cavs walked their way into offensive sets watching the clock hit sometimes 10 seconds before executing.They habitually allowed Boston’s defense to set. And on their side of defense, the Cavs simply failed to defend anything. Glen Davis hit open jumpers. Rajon Rondo had his long-range game going, making him essentially unstoppable. And Pierce had everything working. The Celtics are hard to stop when all that is going, even when your best player, the best player, isn’t having himself the worst night of his playoff career.

Cleveland allowed a 130 efficiency for the Celtics, and mustered up only a 95 efficiency of their own. That’s an amazing differential in a home playoff game. In a bad way.

There will be questions about whether James “pouted” in this game because he was not allowed to guard Rajon Rondo. There will be questions about if James will ever be seen in a Cavs jersey again. There will be questions about curses and bad luck and LeBron’s legacy.

But the one thing there will be no question about is that the Cavaliers, as a team and as a franchise, now face oblivion in a Game 6 in Boston.

  1. oldrazor - May 12, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    “want’s”? I guess your spell checker didn’t catch that.

  2. the ref - May 12, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    It doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t make the players around you better you will never win in the playoffs and LeBron doesn’t do that. Bird, Magic and Jordan all did that why they won in the playoff. The regular season doesn’t mean a thing

  3. MH - May 12, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    JDUBB, the problem with spell check is that is misses grammatical mistakes. You’re an idiot is I believe the term you were looking for.

  4. Cuyahoga River - May 12, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Dumbass, the river burned over 30 years ago. The joke is old. Tim Couch???? Work on your material. There are plenty of other things you can make fun of in Cleveland.
    Lack of development, worst unemployment figures in the country and a mayor that can tell you what’s wrong with the city, tell you there are solutions but do nothing about it. Ha ha ha, now that’s funny. Jackass

  5. Mr. Z - May 12, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    “Burn on Big River!”

  6. ScottNY - May 12, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    #5 Doc. Jordan may have had a center named Luc Longley, but he also had a 20+ scorer named Scottie Pippen. It’s funny how everyone is changing history, now suddenly Kobe won it all last year by himself. Kobe wasn’t winning anything without Gasol.
    All this hate on Lebron, the guy’s hurt. His shooting elbow no less. You guys are writing him off already. Lebron has yet to have a reliable scorer like Pippen, Gasol or a young Shaq. The only team I can think of in recent memory that has won it all without 2 or more big time scorers is the ’94 Rockets that beat my Knicks.
    Speaking of the Knicks, I pray he does end up in NY.

  7. Rob - May 12, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    Randy Newman could have played better than James last night.

  8. IMJCS2 - May 12, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    First….sorry for one more ‘comparison’ post….couldn’t resist. Truly, I think it’s a reasonable comparison, all things considered though. I grew up outside of Chicago and the Michael Jordan era. The energy and passion this region had back then for their Bulls was immeasurable. As Jordan matured & improved on the court, everyone around him naturally did the same. Lebron doesn’t have that. I realize he still has several more years of growth to go, but at times he seems more of a diva than a great basketball leader. Kobe is no Michael either, but his will to win, on-court maturity, and leadership is far beyond Lebron’s. It’s difficult to imagine Lebron ever being legitimately considered a part of the NBA’s elite. At this rate, he’ll be the league’s next Barkley, which isn’t bad, but falls well short of the seemingly reasonable expecations of his capability.

  9. Rod - May 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    It seems to me that when Cleveland’s coach pulled James when the Cavaliers were leading, James was visibly upset with the coach’s decision to take him out; the Cav’s were leading! I don’t blame James. The stupid coach needs to be replaced or else James should play for someone else. My observation leads me to conclude that James will be leaving Cleveland.
    I could not believe the coaching for the Cav’s. It seems that the substitutes that were needed to stop the bleeding never came. Rondo is not that difficult a cover unless your are Mo Williams! Why doesn’t the coach try other players until someone stops the offensive player that is killing them.
    It seems to me that James decided that he has seen the last of this coaching situation and I don’t blame him. He will certainly get hurt without a coach that can offer a competitive coaching strategy even if the Cav’s have the best player in the NBA! Help should be forthcoming for next season for James. I hope he gets a good coach; the players will follow.

  10. duron - May 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    ANYBODY remember shaq dissing kobe rap from a few years back?
    Shaq’s song needs a rewrite for 2010…
    This song is entitled:
    ITS MAY 2010 Cavs vs Celtics..Cavs will lose again!!!
    ITS 2010… Shaq couldn’t win without him…
    ITS 2010…Shaq couldn’t do it without him…
    SHAQ without kobe…falling from grace…
    SHAQ without kobe…Remember your own *** taste…
    SHAQ without kobe…coming in last place.
    SHAQ without kobe…with the fake king.
    Lebron wins mvp…will never wear a ring.
    shaq without KOBE. couldn’t win without him.
    Lakers 2010 CHAMPS…doin it again!!

  11. Omnius - May 12, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    Leboring James has proven that he is not the Most Valuable Player in the NBA with his pathetic performance at home in the worst playoff loss in franchise history. Congrats to the Celtics for unmasking the false king of the NBA. Kobe will prove next month that he is the Most Valuable Player in the NBA Finals and will win another ring without Shaq.

  12. tim - May 12, 2010 at 10:51 AM

    Too much attitude. When the Bron started talking about how he could play NFL, then I knew there was something wrong. Maybe he needs to learn how to make a jumper first.

  13. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Pippen??? Come on….he was nothing without Michael. And this city didn’t care much for him, even when they were winning all the championships. Yes, Pippen was HUGE part of the Bulls’ success, but he’s no Shaq or Gasol. Does anyone remember Pippen without Michael? That’s the difference.
    I agree Lebron doesn’t have a good supporting cast, but that’s partially his fault. His team doesn’t consistently feed off his energy and willpower like the true elites. Hopefully his game & character develop to that level before too long, because that’s what the world expect from him. He brought that expectation onto himself, so it’s time to step up.

  14. Anonymous - May 12, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    Dude, you clearly are just a playoff fan, with little knowledge of the game. “kobe and lebron don’t like to be guarded at all…”??? Uh…wow….speechless.

  15. Lala - May 12, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    Maybe if they stop giving LeBron the MVP trophy, he’ll actually be able to lead his team into the finals . . .I’m just saying, I cannot understand what he has done to deserve that title. And last night, he seemed to give up – did the rest of you get that feeling? He played with no heart last night. MVP’s don’t do that. I’m not campaigning for D.Wade, but at least he does leave everything out on the court.
    That being said, there’s still a game 6, maybe even a game 7. I’m hoping SOMEONE in the Cavs locker room (maybe the team leader and league MVP?) will get the rest of the team AMPED up so we can have the knock-down drag-out series that all of us were expecing. I’ll respect FLING James more if he at least puts up a modicum of a fight before being eliminated.
    Then it’s on to the next one, and the test to see whether or not the Magic’s run last year and this year is just a fluke or whether they have the chops to stand up to the Celts this year, who are on fire. Comissioner Stern, just give me something exciting to watch, PLEASE!

  16. jaime - May 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    I agree with Laker fan, they should wait untill the last game to pick the MVP. As for LaBron please don’t think of comming to Los Angeles. Bye Bye addios asta luego.

  17. cowboyconservative1960 - May 12, 2010 at 11:48 AM

    I’m a huge Celtics fan, and a huge KG fan, so I’m happy as a pig in $h#t! But…the Magic just scare the crap out of me. Hopefully, LeBJ is just keeping this interesting and is keeping me happy with my Celt’s before the Cav’s squeak out a Game 7 winner. After which, they get their heads handed to them in 5 by the Magic.

  18. Dave - May 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Why is that he’s only hurt when he has a bad game?
    What about game 3 when he lit it up?

  19. ROD - May 12, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Mike Brown is a terrible coach.
    Kobe has the zen master; Jordon also had the zen master.
    LaBron James needs a coach rather than Mike Brown. I suspect that Kobe would not make it out of the first round with Mike Brown coaching. Hasn’t anyone noticed that Coach Brown doesn’t seem to know when its time to substitute a player; or to call a time-out.
    Not to worry LaBron, you are the best player with the worse coach!

  20. Greg Perkins - May 12, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    ha ha ha ha lebron. but look at shaq, is he too old, 21 pounts 4 blocks and a number of rebounds, he was darn good. i think he was 7-11 shooting. add 5 more points to shaq and he was pretty much were he was when he was young. Garnett and crew are taking game 6 as if it was 7 so watch out. the c’s dominated the cavs when they won so to me its unlikely they will loose the series. ha ha ha ha. the celts werent supposed to get past the first round. i like z as well play him more. he realy is good.

  21. Mick the Ripper - May 12, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    1st LBJ deserved MVP, if not him then Durant, then Dwight. LBJ is still the best player in the NBA but he does not have a supporting cast to get them the title. I’ve said this once and I will say it again, with the exception of James all of Cav’s starters would be on the bench for any competing team in the West. They have subpar guards and absolutely no rotation structure in the playoffs. Mike Brown is now trying to coach “Playoff style basketball” but let me ask you this, if it’s not broke then why fix it?

  22. marco - May 12, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    kobe would not have let his team down with out a fight lebron’s a loser

  23. JK - May 12, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    A super star can make lot of money, but if he want to have a ring he have to go with a winning team (management included). Kobe as an example.
    Go Lakers!

  24. King Saul - May 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    Lebron the False Savior of the NBA is showing his true colors once again.
    He is just a Kobe imposter. He can’t close when it matters,and he bitches up when u attack him first.

  25. KobeTime - May 12, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    he rule a decade he rule a decade
    learn to type and to speak. kobe has every chance of getting 6. LJ? doubtful. Oh and if you can’t remember because you’re too young and Du…. there are many many players with more than 6 rings who owned the league for many years. KAREEM!!! 9 MVPS’ not including his College days. 6 rings. 18 All star appearences. and 20 years in the league. Oh not to mention 38,387 points. MJ might have been the flashiest player(Kobe is just about equal, I say better), but Kareem was far more valuable. And Kobe is still far more valuable and great than LJ. Because, when it comes down to it Readers, Kobe becomes greater, while LJ, as you can see, shrivels.

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