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In a battle throughout the game, the Celtics came up on the short end of it all once again. Guess where this game was? On the road. Boston lost Game 6 of this series against Cleveland 74-69 and continues to falter on the road. After having such a dominant Game 5 at home, many thought that the Celtics would maybe carry that rhythm out on the road for once, but they still could not come up with anything.
The Celtics tried to drive to the basket in this one, but were not getting the foul calls that the Cavs were. Cleveland went to the line 25 times tonight, while the Celtics only manage to get a try at 13 free throws. The Cavs also out rebounded the Celtics 45-30. Especially on the offense side of the boards, Cleveland gathered 16 offensive rebounds compared to the Celtics’ 7. After grabbing those offensive rebounds, Cleveland was able to convert them into second chance points. The Celtics beat the Cavs from the floor by shooting 39.7% to the Cavs’ 32.1%. However, when any team lets their opponent take all those free throws and out-rebound, then it has little chance of winning.
The Celtics got most of their scoring out of Kevin Garnett, who had 25 points and 8 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 16 points and 5 rebounds. One positive note from this game was bringing Eddie House back into action who had not really played at all the entire playoffs. House had 8 points tonight and hopefully we’ll see him again on Sunday. The problem with the Celtics is the lack of contribution from Kendrick Perkins and Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo also struggled after having a great Game 5. Those three players combined only managed 16 points together in 100 minutes of total playing time. Such numbers need to come up significantly if the Celtics want to win Game 7 back in Boston.
Cleveland was led by, no surprise, Lebron James. James had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists tonight. James got help from Delonte West who had 10 points and Joe Smith off the bench who had 9 points. Any problems Lebron had at the beginning of this series have seemed fade away at this point, as he is barely missing anything. The Celtics will need to force him to shoot long jumpers to decrease his shooting percentage and keep him out of the paint, an area where James will kill (and has killed) the Celtics.
The Celtics did keep fighting and made some comebacks after being down by as many as 16 in the third quarter. There were some bad calls made tonight, especially the charge called on Paul Pierce in the fourth quarter. Go ahead and say I am blaming the loss on bad officiating, but that call was absolutely ridiculous. Watch it again and notice how Lebron’s feet are not set and his arm is moving into steal the ball. Pierce did not charge him and it should not have been called an offensive foul. Who knows, had that been called a foul Pierce may have gone to the line, made both his shots, tied the game, and maybe come away with a win and the Celts would be playing Detroit on Sunday. However such a finish was not to be the case tonight; Game 7 will be Sunday against Cleveland again.
The Celtics need come out in a fury on Sunday and play aggressively. Keep driving to the basket, get better looks at the rebounding and box out, and nail down those shots that they had such good looks at tonight, but missed. The problem is, the best player is not wearing white on Sunday. James is going to be tough to shut down, but if they can and perform like they have at home thus far, then the Celtics will be playing a well-rested Detroit team on Tuesday.