Celtics Looking to Bounce Back, Tie Series

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Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) at Boston Celtics (1-2)
Sunday, May 9
3:30 PM ET
Round 2, Game 4
TD Garden
Referees:  Joe DeRosa, Mike Callahan,  Michael Smith  
After dominating in game 2, the Celtics failed to show up in game 3. They didn't show up defensively and allowed the Cavs to get to get to the rim and to get open shots the entire game. It wasn't so much that the Cavs were that much better, but the fact that the Celtics were that much worse defensively. The result was the worst home playoff loss in Celtics history.

The Celtics lost this game in the first quarter when they were out scored 36-17. They played fairly close in the other 3 quarters, but the damage had already been done. The officials took control of the game right from the start, calling 2 quick fouls on both KG and Perk and made it clear that it would not be an easy game for them. But, the Celtics proved that they can win in spite of the referees, if they just play tough defense. But the Celtics didn't play any defense so the loss is on them, not the refs. The Celtics just rolled over and let the Cavs walk all over them.

Just like game 2 was just one game for the Cavs, game 3 is just one game for the Celtics. They need to be motivated by this loss just as the Cavs were motivated by their game 2 loss. The Celtics need to come out with a better effort, regardless of the early calls in the game and win game 4 to even the series. They have proved that they can win in Cleveland and so this series isn't over by a long shot. But, the Celtics must have more energy and effort, especially on defense, than we saw from them in game 3.
Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
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Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams

Shooting Guard
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Ray Allen vs Anthony Parker

Small Forward
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Paul Pierce vs LeBron James

Power Forward
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Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison

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Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal

Key Matchups
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Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams
Rondo continues to be the Celtics best player. In game 3, the Cavs made him a shooter rather than a distributor. Rondo needs to continue to be aggressive and to get his teammates the ball in position to score.

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Kevin Garnett vs Antawn Jamison
KG has been shooting the ball well this matchup favors the Celtics. They must do a better job of going to KG early and often. KG also has to do a better job of beating Jamison to rebounds. In game 3, Jamison had 12 rebounds and KG had 4. KG has to be more aggressive on the boards.

Honorable Mention
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Rasheed Wallace vs Anderson Varejao
Sheed reverted to the old Sheed again after finally showing up in game 2. Varejao was also up to his old tricks instigating and issuing cheap shots hoping for retaliation. Sheed has got to do better than 2 points and 1 rebound.

Players to Watch
Paul Pierce has been almost invisible in this series so far and Game 3 may have been his worst game yet. He shot just 4-15, missing several wide open shots. A bad offensive performance might be forgive if he had made up for it on the defensive end, but he did nothing to try to slow James down either. The Celtics desperately need Pierce to show up for this game on both ends of the court.

LeBron James hopefully put to rest any lingering questions about his elbow. He is perfectly healthy and should be defended that way. The Celtics allowed James to get anything he wanted in game 3 as he finished with 38 points. The Celtics must do a better job of slowing him down and take the ball out of his hands as they did in game 2.

Keys to the Game
DEFENSE! DEFENSE! DEFENSE! I can't say it enough, defense is the key to winning this game and the championship. The team that plays the best defense most consistently will win the title. The Celtics won game 2 with their defense. They got blown out in game 3 because they completely forgot how to play defense. The Cavs shot 62% in the first half of game 3 and they shot 59% for the game. The Celtics must make playing defense a priority if they want to win this series.

Rebound The Celtics allowed the Cavs to out-rebound them 45-30 in game 3. Rebounding is the result of desire and effort and it was obvious that the Cavs showed more of both in game 3. The Celtics must work harder on the boards if they want to win this game.

Focus for 48 Minutes - The Celtics came out completely unfocused on both ends of the court. The Cavs got the benefit of a lot of early calls and that seemed to completely demoralize the Celtics and take them out of the game. After that terrible first quarter, the game was called fairly evenly, but the damage had already been done. The Celtics proved in game 2 that if they just keep their focus they can beat the Cavs and the refs. And they proved in game 3 that they can beat themselves if they lose that focus.

Paul Pierce The Celtics need their captain to step up in this game. So far in the 1st 3 games, he has not been a factor. In games 1 and 2 he at least played good defense but in game 3, he was ineffective on both ends of the court. Pierce has to come out of his slump and give the Celtics a boost on both ends of the court.

Focus and the Officials
First let me say that the Celtics lost game 3 because they played no defense and lost their focus and just rolled over and let the Cavs walk over them But, I think the first quarter's officiating had a lot to do with it. The early calls all went the Cavs way and the Celtics allowed that to rattle them. We can expect more of the same bad officiating in game 4, but the Celtics can still win as long as they don't lose their focus. They have to keep playing hard no matter how many early fouls are called on them. If they keep playing hard, they will win, just as they did in game 2. If they allow the refs to get into their heads as they did in game 3, they will lose again.

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