BOSTON — Welcome to the land of the green goblins. Welcome to a Boston Celtics Eastern Conference finals playoff game.
You’ve heard of sleeping with the enemy?
It’s not like that because there’s no room to stretch out here in Section 6, Row 11 of TD Garden. Medieval monastic cells have been roomier. But was the abbot in the corner, deconstructing their work on the Book of Kells?
I was back in the seat I seldom sat in during the playoffs two years ago, surrounded by Celtic fans behind and in front of the narrow press table near the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bench. Fans craned their necks like construction equipment, trying to see what we sometimes acerbic, but usually grand Cleveland fellows, hardly worthy of a rude word, were writing.
Green lights to the hoop, maybe
The fans were almost all wearing wristbands with LED lights that glitter and glow, as green as the lights on Thunder Road. They supply the thunder.
“Everyone has used the home court to advantage in the playoffs,” said Cavaliers coach Ty Lue. “The home crowd has definitely played a part in the playoffs.”
Emotion from the fans can’t make up for the toll 13 playoff games, the last a tension-filled East semifinal Game 7 on Monday night, took on the Celtics. The Cavs played only the minimum of eight games in the first two rounds and had been off since May 7.
The Cavs won, 117-104. It wasn’t that close.The Cavs led by as much as 28 points.
This was mostly because LeBron James kept turning Thunder Road into an EZ Pass lane to the hoop.
The Celtics have no one who can keep him from getting to the basket, either on isolations or on pick-and-rolls. Not Jae Crowder, not Kelly Olynyk, not Marcus Smart, not Jaylen Brown, and certainly not 5-9 Isiah Thomas. The last defender once on a fast break, Thomas looked especially relieved when a pass smacked off James’ shin and out of bounds.
James finished with 38 points, nine rebounds,and seven assists. He was backed by Kevin Love’s 32 points and 12 rebounds. Tristan Thompson made all seven of his shots from the floor and had 20 points.
Isiah Thomas was not “it” in this game
As for Thomas, the Celtics’ lone All-Star, the Cavs used a big man to “show” on him, sicced stopper Iman Shumpert on him, and once, when he was isolated on James, forced Thomas to shoot an airball to himself, which is one of the seldom seen subsets of the traveling violation.
Home-court advantage is at The Q now
The Eastern Conference finals would not have started here had the Cavaliers not treated the regular season like extended spring training.
Instead of the corner of Huron and Ontario, the series started close to where Indians as fake as Chief Wahoo threw tea into Boston Harbor, only a half-hour’s walk from Bunker Hill, where the Minutemen didn’t shoot till they could see the whites of the Redcoats’ eyes.
As an island in a green bay that has nothing whatsoever to do with Ray Nitschke, I could see the pupils of their eyes.
The beleaguered fans’ best moment was a half-hearted “Airball! Airball!” chant directed at Love, who had already made five from the 3-point line.
As Lue says anytime he is asked a question he doesn’t want to answer, “Just happy to be here.”
He had a better seat, but it wasn’t so bad in Section 6, Row 11, either.