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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Another game 7, what do you know?

The Boston Celtics continued to live out the movie "Groundhog's Day," with another nightmarish loss on the road. No matter what they try to change, the outcome of their road games in the playoffs is always the same (0-6).

Cleveland won game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last night at Quicken Loans Arena, 74-69, to force game 7 tomorrow afternoon back at the Garden.

A stat showed up after last night's loss that no team had ever won the NBA championship after losing its first six road game of the playoffs. No surprise there.

LeBron James scored a game-high 32 points (9 of 23 from the floor, 13 of 15 from the line), grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists.

Kevin Garnett had 25 points and eight rebounds while Paul Pierce managed 16 points and five boards.

I wish I could explain how Rajon Rondo was the same person that dominated game 5. Last night he had two points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 31 minutes. Sam Cassell got a well-deserved DNP and in the biggest surprise of all: Eddie House scored eight points off the bench and played well in his 18 minutes.

This was the ugliest game of the series, which is say something after the vomit-inducing stylings of games 1 and two.

Boston was held under 20 points in each quarter: 18, 15, 17, 19. It was a strange one as the teams were both stuck in the mud before Cleveland closed out the first half on a run, giving them a 42-33 lead.

Fittingly, Delonte West (10 points) stole the ball and drained a buzzer-beating three right before the half. Only this Celtics team, on the road, could call a timeout to diagram a last shot, then have something like that happen.

The Cavs came out to start the second half on fire, the lead was pushed to 16 points before the Celts finally responded. Boston cut it to three points but eventually Cleveland counter punched and ended the third still up nine.

Another fourth quarter on the road that the Celts choked away. You'd have to say that's the team's style now, it's no coincidence. They could never get it lower than three points. Down five with less than a minute left, Pierce was called for charging on a clearly moving James. It was a brutal call that only slightly overshadowed a non-call on a Joe Smith travel a few plays later.

There's no point in bitching about the referees decisions or the Cavs free-throw advantage (21-25 vs. 11-13). Like it or not, it's common knowledge that home teams get a majority of the calls in the playoffs. It's just the way it is. The C's didn't deserve this game. Not after allowing Wally Szczerbiak to drill a wide-open three to give Cleveland a nine-point lead late in the fourth.

The Cavs shot 32.9% to the Celtics 39.7%. Cleveland had eight more rebounds (45-37) but the C's had nine more assists (19-10).

So here we are. Another game 7 at the Garden. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Cavs don't lay down like the Hawks did. Other than that, I'm done making predictions.