BOSTON -- One by one members of the Celtics came to the podium after Sunday's game and exhaled a long sigh of relief.
"We needed this game," said
"We had to get this win," said coach
The Celtics weren't ready to celebrate their 117-113 win over Cleveland, and for good reason. Because while Boston will chalk this one up in the win column, it was hardly an impressive performance against a Cavaliers team that easily erased a 22-point deficit to nearly steal a victory.
Here are five things we learned on Sunday:
Cleveland's coaching staff -- which was without
Two days after putting up one of his worst games of the season (a six-foul, five-points-in-16-minute clunker against Houston), Allen submitted one of his finest, scoring 33 points in 42 brilliant minutes. No one needed a breakout game more than Allen, who had only seven points (on 2-for-9 shooting) in Wednesday's loss to San Antonio. Allen's ability to make shots is, obviously, a key component to Boston's success. When Allen is stretching the floor like he did Sunday, it opens up the low post for Kevin Garnett (19 points) and creates wider lanes for Paul Pierce (16).
"We had a long talk yesterday about not dancing with the ball but attacking with the ball," said Rivers. "He was terrific. I like what he's doing. Catch, shoot. Catch, attack."
"Boston talks more [expletive] than any team in the league," was the text message from an NBA scout that came in shortly after the final buzzer. Hard to argue that today. It seemed everywhere you looked Sunday, a Celtic was talking.
"It's something we have to learn from," said Pierce. "There are going to be a lot of tight games in the playoffs. I mean, [if] we are going to get technicals and riled up, let's do it early in the game than late. But, even then, if it comes down to one- or two-point games, that could be the difference.
Boston is the second-worst rebounding team in the league this season and were once again beaten on the glass (42-38, including 22-17 in the second half) by a Cavaliers team playing without
Before the game, James reacted to comments Colangelo, the chairman of USA Basketball, made to Yahoo! Sports, telling the Web site there would be "no free passes" for players who skipped the 2010 world championships without a legitimate reason. Colangelo went on to say that any player who didn't travel to Turkey jeopardize their spot in the 2012 Olympics.
"There's a lot that goes on with being a professional athlete other than just basketball," James said. "I think everyone in the USA knows what type of commitment these guys have made, including myself, since 2003. I'm not trying to bash Jerry or anything like that because he's a good guy and I respect him. I don't respect [what he said] because of the commitment we've all given to the USA."
James isn't the first player to express reservations about competing in Turkey this summer, but he has the highest profile. Both sides have valid arguments: Colangelo wants to make sure the U.S. doesn't slip back to mediocrity on the world stage and James wants some semblance of a life after playing ten months of basketball. It will be interesting to see how Colangelo responds if James,