Final Dime: Celtics 94, Cavaliers 85
Shaquille O'Neal notched 11 points in Thursday's Game 6 loss.
After taking Game 3 less than one week earlier on the Garden’s parquet floor, the Cavaliers couldn’t recapture that energy on Thursday night – dropping the final three games of the series, including a 32-point home blowout two nights earlier that put Cleveland squarely on the precipice.
After taking some harsh criticism leading up to Game 6, LeBron James bounced back with a triple-double in his postseason finale – finishing with 27 points, 19 boards and 10 assists. LeBron notched 10 of his 27 in the fourth quarter, when the Cavaliers cut Boston’s 10-point edge down to four.
But Boston stemmed every Cavaliers run and did so again in the final period on Thursday night. After LeBron drained back-to-back treys early in the fourth, Rajon Rondo’s layup – followed by three-pointers from Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace – put the game, and the Wine and Gold’s season, on ice.
“We just never got a rhythm in this series,” lamented Coach Mike Brown. “We had a rhythm in Game 3, but after that we never could catch rhythm against this team. And they had something to do with it.”
LeBron finished 8-for-21 from the floor and 9-for-12 from the stripe, adding three steals and a blocked shot. On the negative side of the ledger, LeBron also led both teams with nine turnovers – part of the 24 miscues for Cleveland on the night.
“You have high expectations going into the postseason and you never can predict the future,” said James. “But at the same time, you hope for things much brighter than what’s going on right now.”
Mo Williams followed up with 22 points – netting 20 of those in the first half. Mo was 8-of-18 from the floor, adding seven boards, four assists and a pair of steals. Like LeBron, however, Mo’s impressive numbers were tainted by five turnovers.
Shaquille O’Neal was the only other Cavalier to notch double-figures with 11 points and four boards despite battle foul troubles throughout the evening.
Cleveland’s bench didn’t provide much spark, at least in comparison to Boston’s. Anderson Varejao led the reserves with six points and seven boards, but was just 2-of-7 from the field. Delonte West had as many points (3) as turnovers in 14 underwhelming minutes and Big Z notched just a single field goal and no rebounds in 15 minutes.
Tony Allen and Rasheed Wallace combined for 23 points off Boston’s bench, joining three Celtic starters in double-figures. Kevin Garnett led Boston with 22 points on 11-for-19 shooting – frustrating a Cavalier defenders from Shaq to Andy to Antawn Jamison.
For the second straight season, the Cavaliers exit the playoffs after mounting the top regular season record in the NBA. And for the second time in three postseasons, their demise came at the hands of the Celtics.
The Cavaliers will report for their season-ending physicals on Friday, then go their separate ways for the summer. The Celtics will face the Magic in Eastern Conference Finals beginning Sunday afternoon in Orlando.
2. The Celtics have now won 33 of their 34 series when leading a series 3-2, and are 5-1 when Game 6 is played in Boston.
3. The Cavaliers are now 0-5 all-time when trailing 2-3 in a series and have won Game 6 just once (2008 vs. Boston).
4. LeBron’s triple-double on Thursday night was the sixth of his postseason career and 34th overall.
5. Cavaliers have played in 72 playoff games since the 2006 postseason, more than any team in the NBA during that span.
6. Anthony Parker was one of the Cavaliers few consistent performers in their Second Round series – notching double-figures in four of the six games in the series. Parker was an even 17-for-34 from the floor, including 11-of-21 from long-distance.
7. In the postseason, the Cavaliers made 79 three-pointers compared the 47 treys made by their opponents.
8. Shaq finished the postseason scoring in double-figures in six of the Cavaliers last seven playoff games. He shot .618 from the floor and .655 from the stripe over the last four.
9. Just to add a bit of salt to Cleveland’s wound, seated courtside for Thursday night’s Game 6 loss was (former Browns) and current Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick.
10. LeBron’s 19 rebounds ties a career-high and is the most he’s ever grabbed in a playoff game.