Coach Mike Brown Rips Cavs After Lackluster Loss
"Plain and simple," Brown said, "we got our butts kicked."
There was more about his team's 104-86 defeat, which sent the series back to Boston tied at 1-1.
"We have to decide that we're going to take the fight to them and take these games," Brown snapped. "Nothing is going to be given to us at all. Ain't a goddamn thing going to be given to us at all in this series. We've gotta fight better than what we did tonight. Coming from behind in the first game, coming from behind in the second game. That's not good enough. That's not good enough for me or anybody in this locker room. If we expect to win that series, we've gotta bring more of a sense of urgency than what we brought tonight."
This was greatly out of character for Brown, who rarely criticizes players and rarely calls out his team. This night he swore -- and challenged Mo Williams, who was a woeful 1 for 9 and was more woeful on defense trying to keep up with Rajon Rondo (19 assists) and Ray Allen (22 points, 8 of 15).
"He's got to step up," Brown said. "It's as simple as that. It's playoff time. He's got to step up and make the right plays for us and he's got to knock down shots. It's going to be tough for us to win a series if Mo plays the way he did tonight. Whether it's defensively or offensively, he's got to bring it ... just like the rest of us."
Brown seemed to recognize that the Cavs played with a sense of undeserved entitlement. They had won one playoff series over Chicago and a game against Boston and celebrated LeBron James being given the MVP trophy. They played Game 2 like they already have won three titles when they've won none. Brown brought up two plays, both emblematic of the night. On one, Kevin Garnett cut off James on a breakaway and picked up his fourth foul. Brown said Garnett made sure James did not get a layup. Later, Tony Allen -- a Celtics backup -- dribbled the length of the court and scored on a layup as three Cavs watched.
"Stuff like that can't happen," Brown said.
There was more. Boston played through a quirky second quarter when the Cavs were not whistled for a single foul. When the calls started to even out -- as they always do -- the Cavs did not react well. They seemed upset about calls, and at one point Anderson Varejao ran over Allen on his way to the rim, sending him flying and earning a well-deserved flagrant foul. By the fourth quarter, Allen was helping Boston win while Varejao was back in the locker room with back spasms.
Then there was James, who came to the podium, said his team played poorly but it was a long series. James had a similar attitude in last year's playoffs when the Cavs fell behind Orlando 3-1.
"There's no panic for me," James said. "I may handle it differently than Mike."
James said Brown did not say a lot to the team, except to mention the series would not be easy.
"He must have given you a different look when he came up here and saw you guys," James said. "He doesn't love you like he loves us, I guess."
The disparity between coach and MVP was stark, though both could be right. There is lot of series left, but the Cavs also have to play better. A coach is supposed to get upset, and might want to send a message to his team. But the league's MVP might not want to panic.
"I know we didn't play well," James said. "The third quarter (which was 31-12 Boston) was definitely one of the worst quarters we've had this year. But when you look at it, at the end of the day the series is tied 1-1."
What Brown looks at is an overall effort that led to the Cavs' worst home loss in two years. And a lackadaisical effort that had him angrier than he's been in a long time.
"We have a lot of basketball left," he said. "But the thing that I'm disappointed in is the way we let them manhandle us in the third quarter. We can't allow that to happen. If that's going to happen, everybody might as well foul out."