Breakfast Special: Boston Massacred

The first test of the new-and-improved Cleveland Cavaliers came in Boston on Paul Pierce‘s jersey retirement night.

And LeBron James and friends passed with flying colors, beating the snot out of the Celtics to the tune of 121-99. James had 24 to go with 8 rebounds and 10 assists, the Cavs posted a Total Team Effort, getting seven guys into double figures, J.R. Smith made 6-of-7 from the field in getting 15 points, and the Cavs shot 53.6 percent from the field and 53.3 from three against Boston’s 40.6 percent overall and 26.3 percent from long range.

The rest of the stats were relatively close; similar free throw, rebounding, turnover, and other secondary numbers.

The Cavs just got better shots and made them. It’s what Finals teams do…and a resurgent and suddenly re-engaged LeBron James is the scariest thing to happen to the Eastern Conference this season.

Cleveland also clinched the tiebreaker in case they can close the rest of the 5.5 games between themselves and Boston for second place; they stand six back of Toronto. A second-round Game 7 home game is in the balance, and the Cavs did what they needed to.

Highlights from the new kids on the block in the home of the New Kids on the Block:

The Blake Griffin Hangover

Detroit looked like they were going to charge into the top eight, but you do not accomplish this by losing to the Hawks, even if the game is in Atlanta.

The Pistons fell 118-115, as Griffin went full Dark Ages in getting his 23 points on 7-of-21 shooting.

Even though Detroit assisted on a Warriors-like 30 of their 38 makes, and they had 12 offensive rebounds to Atlanta’s four, it wasn’t enough to overcome a sloppy, foul-filled mess in which the Hawks hit 32 of 37 shots from the free throw line.

Dewayne Dedmon led the Hawks with a double-double; he scored 20 and added 13 boards.

Dennis Schroder was the leading scorer, notching 23 on 7-of-13 shooting.

Griffin also had the worst plus-minus of any player out there, going minus-21 in a game his team lost by just three.

Highlights:

Ola3po

Victor Oladipo has made his mark on the Pacers since he came back from his latest illness, powering the Pacers past the Celtics last week, but he had an amazing-even-by-his-standards game Sunday in the Pacers’ 121-113 win over the Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Oladipo had 30 points on 10-of-24 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds, dished nine assists, and played grand theft basketball with six steals.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points, Thaddeus Young posted an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double, and the Pacers’ defense held the Knicks to an atrocious 9-of-35 shooting night from beyond the arc.

The Pacers hit 50 percent (47-of-94) of their shots despite a disaster-movie 2-of-11 from Domantas Sabonis; the rest of the team was 45-of-83 (54.2 percent.)

We can condense this further; Oladipo hit just 41.7 percent of his shots. Take his performance out as well and the rest of the team was 35-of-59 (59.3 percent.)

This is to say that the team stepped up and hit shots.

Highlights:

Lightning Round!

OK, the “here come the Hornets” talk is officially deader than disco, as Toronto thumped Charlotte in the Hornets’ own building to the tune of 123-103.

DeMar DeRozan, C.J. Miles, and Jonas Valanciunas posted a Triple 20, with 25, 24, and 21, respectively. The All-Star DeRozan is your man of the match:

Oklahoma City clobbered Memphis 110-92 behind 33 points from Paul George and a defense that smothered the Grizzlies offense, holding them to 39 percent shooting and just six three-pointers in 28 tries (21.4 percent).

Even without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder got the job done. PG13 is your man of the match:

De’Aaron Fox finally had a great game, scoring 23 points on 8-of-16, but the rest of the Kings didn’t follow his lead, and Minnesota beat them 111-106 behind 29 points on 10-of-17 from Karl-Anthony Towns.

Minnesota shot 28-of-32 from the free throw line compared to 12-of-17 for Memphis. More attempts. Fewer misses. 16 extra points in a five-point game. Any questions?

KAT is your man of the match:

James Harden scored 27 points and had only three turnovers, Chris Paul added 25 and a near-triple-double with eight boards and nine assists, and the Rockets took good care of the ball, turning it over only nine times against 14 for Dallas, as Houston won a 104-97 Sunday home tilt in Texas.

Two men of the match in this eighth straight win for a team that looks like they’re going to give Golden State all they want in the Western Conference Finals:

And finally, la revanche d’Utah continues for Rudy Gobert and the Jazz, as the Salt Lake City squad ran their record all the way back to .500 at 28-28 behind their ninth straight win.

Utah is still tenth in the West, but they stand just 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Blazers, who dropped a 115-96 blowout final to the visiting Jazz in Portland.

Three Jazz starters had 11 rebounds each, Utah overall grabbed 58 boards, and Portland shot a terrible 40.7 percent on a night the Jazz hit half of their 26 three-point attempts and 46.6 percent overall.

The final rebounding margin, 58-37, portended the score.

The hotshot rookie, Donovan Mitchell, had 27 points to take man of the match honors:

Coming soon to a quality NBA site near you: Some Statistical Test science involving “controlling the pace of the game”. Stay tuned for that and thanks for reading!