Central Casting - 05/09/10

Bucks.com's Truman Reed presents this weekly glance at what's happening in the National Basketball Association's Central Division

May 9, 2010

Player of the Week:
LeBron James - Cleveland
James has to get the nod again, having averaged 32.5 points per game through the first four games of the Cleveland/Boston Eastern Conference semifinal series. His 38-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist, 2-block performance, which carried the Cavaliers to their 124-95 Game 3 rout at Boston, was his best in the series thus far.

Rookie of the Week:
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee
Jennings culminated his first playoff experience with 15 points and five assists as the Bucks dropped Game 7 of their first-round series at Atlanta on May 2, 95-74.

Jennings averaged a team-leading 19.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds in the series. His 34.7 minutes per game ranked second on the team, he shot .864 from the free-throw line and his 11 3-point goals made were good for second on the squad.

Jennings started all 82 regular-season games for the Bucks, helping them post a 46-36 record (their most wins since a 50-32 mark in 2000-01) and their first playoff trip since 2006.

The 10th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft finished third among rookies with 15.5 points, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game to go with 3.4 rpg. He set Milwaukee franchise rookie records for assists (470) and 3-pointers (145).

In Jennings' first career playoff game April 17, he scored 34 points in Atlanta, the fourth-highest total ever by a rookie making his playoff debut.

Game of the Week:
May 11 - Boston 97, Cleveland 87
Before this Eastern Conference Semifinal series began and during its first three games, most wondered if the Celtics' "Big Three" - Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen - had enough left in the tank to present a serious threat to the Cavaliers.

In Game 4, Rajon Rondo invited himself to the party and made his presence felt in a big way.

The fourth-year point guard out of the University of Kentucky enjoyed one of the monster games of the entire 2010 Playoffs, going off for 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists to help the Celtics even the series at 2-2 with a 10-point victory at TD Garden.

The playoff triple-double was the fourth of Rondo's career, and his 18 rebounds were a personal playoff high. He joined Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain as the only three players in NBA history to have as many as 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in the same NBA Playoff contest.

Robertson, the former Milwaukee Buck, totaled 32 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists in a 1963 playoff game for the Cincinnati Royals. Chamberlain rang up 29 points, 36 rebounds and 13 assists for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967.

Rondo and the Celtics opened a 31-22 first-quarter lead, but led by just two points through three quarters at 74-72. They rattled off 10 straight points to open the fourth period, though, getting 18 points apiece from Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and 15 off the bench from Tony Allen.

LeBron James scored 22 points to pace the Cavaliers, but that total was just one more than he had in the first quarter of Cleveland's 124-95 Game 3 victory two days earlier. James also registered nine rebounds and eight assists, but committed seven of his team's 17 turnovers.

Besides James, only Shaquille O'Neal, with 17 points, made much of an impact for Cleveland in Game 4.

Game to Watch:
May 13 - Cleveland at Boston
Game 6 figures to be the pivotal game of this series.

Cleveland has already proven it can win at Boston during this series, dealing the Celtics the most lopsided home playoff loss in their rich history with a 124-95 victory in Game 3 on May 7. The Cavaliers charged out to a 21-point first-quarter advantage in that game behind 21 points from LeBron James.

James is averaging 32.2 points in the series, but the next-closest Cavalier is Antawn Jamison at 14.3. Boston's Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are all averaging between 17.5 points and 16.5 points over the first four games.

The two teams' reserves have matched each other almost point-for-point, with Boston's holding a 97-95 edge. So the key to this game and possibly the series could be the performance of Cleveland's Mo Williams, Jamison, O'Neal and the other members of James' supporting cast, most of whom have fallen below their regular-season production through the first four games of this series.

Big Numbers:

  • LeBron James put up 38 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks in Cleveland's victory over Boston on May 7 in Game 3 of the teams' Eastern Conference semifinal series.
  • Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova recorded a double-double off the bench with 13 points and 11 rebounds as the Bucks dropped Game 7 of their first-round series with Atlanta on May 2, 95-74.
  • Cleveland's Antawn Jamison collected 20 points and a team-high 12 rebounds in the Cavaliers 124-95 triumph over Boston on May 7.

Central Division Team Scores Schedules:

Cleveland Cavaliers/Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Semifinal Series Review
May 1 - Cleveland 111, Boston 93
May 3 - Boston 104, Cleveland 86
May 7 - Cleveland 124, Boston 95
May 9 - Boston 97, Cleveland 87

Cleveland Cavaliers/Boston Celtics Eastern Conference Semifinal Series Preview
May 11 - Boston at Cleveland
May 13 - Cleveland at Boston
May 16* - Boston at Cleveland
*if needed

Milwaukee Bucks/Atlanta Hawks First-Round Playoff Series Review
April 17 - Atlanta 102, Milwaukee 92
April 20 - Atlanta 96, Milwaukee 86
April 24 - Milwaukee 107, Atlanta 89
April 26 - Milwaukee 101, Atlanta 94
April 28 - Milwaukee 91, Atlanta 87
April 30 - Atlanta 83, Milwaukee 69
May 2 - Atlanta 95, Milwaukee 74