Cavs fend off pesky Celtics, complete sweep
By TAYLOR ROSEN
College Contributor Network
In what many would have claimed was just a "normal basketball game" 30 years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers found a way to hold off the short-tempered Celtics on Sunday afternoon to complete the first round sweep, but yet again, not without some controversy.
It all started just seven minutes into the ball game when Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk and Cavaliers forward Kevin Love got tangled up going for a loose ball. It was blatantly obvious in clear view that Olynyk put Love in an arm bar and intentionally yanked, and dislocated his shoulder. In Love's words, "It was a bush-league play. I have no doubt in my mind he did it on purpose." Olynyk was only given a normal personal foul and the play was not reviewed.
That was just the beginning, as the second quarter arrived, so did Kendrick Perkins. Perkins came into the game and it only took him 36 seconds of game action before catching, and delivering a blow to Jae Crowder, who was coming off of a screen. The shoulder bump from Perkins knocked Crowder to the ground, which then created a mini scuffle. Boston fans didn't expect first year head coach, David Blatt to not lean on Perkins in a heated physical game, did they? That's the main reason Perkins came to Cleveland, to be the Cavaliers muscle come post-season time, and on Sunday he was just that.
But it didn't end there, many of you knew Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith would get in on the act, since he does indeed have a track record in that regard. While boxing out Boston guard Jae Crowder, Smith inevitably threw a back-handed punch that connected directly with Crowder's jaw. Crowder then awkwardly fell to the ground and twisted his knee, and needed to be carried to the Celtics locker room by his teammates while yelling profanities at the Cavs bench.
So if there's one thing to conclude from this Cavaliers Celtics series it's the Cavaliers will not allow any team to bully them. I'm in no way praising the acts of Perkins and Smith, but it takes some physicality and the ability to deliver a retaliation blow to get the job done. Could they have handled it a little bit better? Absolutely, but it is what it is, they saw what happened to Love, and they stepped in to defend their injured teammate, and send a message to the Celtics, and the rest of the league.
With that being said, Kevin Love also said after the game his shoulder feels much better and he's hoping he'll be able to play in game one in what looks like will be a second round battle with the Chicago Bulls. Those comments from Love should soothe the nerves of Cavs fans across Northeast Ohio heading into the Bulls series. Expect J.R. Smith to be suspended at least one game for his back-handed punch on Jae Crowder, but if Love is able to go, the Cavaliers will be just fine without Smith for a game or two.
The key to the Cavaliers Bulls series is pace of play, and finding a way to slow down Derrick Rose, and Jimmy Butler. The Bulls are hitting on all cylinders when Rose and Butler are both playing at a high level, so if the Cavs can find a way to limit both, if not, just one of them they should be able to win the series. Chicago is a very stout, and well-coached team, but I just can't see them ultimately eliminating a Cavaliers team with this much firepower. If Love is healthy and ready to go, the Cavs should be able to handle the Bulls in six games.
First year coach David Blatt is now going to be forced to dig deeper into his bench with the Smith suspension coming. Blatt has been limiting the rotation as much as he can, and has kept it to no more than eight or nine guys, which is something I'm having a hard time understanding. Maybe he's just resting the veteran guys like Miller, Haywood, Marion, for the later rounds, but they will be called upon and relied on at some point during this post season run.
For now, Cavs fans should just hope Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder, and that it was nothing else. If that MRI scan brings good news for the Cavaliers, then the only thing we learned and witnessed Sunday is the Celtics will go to extreme extents to even have a chance at winning, and the Cavaliers will, and can beat you in whatever style of ball you're willing to play against them.
Taylor Rosen is a junior at Kent State University. He spent time with The Stater covering Kent State football and basketball. Taylor is from Cleveland, and has Cleveland sports under a microscope. Follow him on Twitter: @T_Rosen11