In a wild affair that saw ejections and star players go down to injury, the Cavs managed to hang on and beat the Boston Celtics 101-93 for a sweep of the boys from bean town and advance to the Eastern Conference semis.
The contest didn’t come without several incidents as Kevin Love suffered a horrific shoulder injury early into the first quarter with the Cavs up 18 – 10. He had rebounded the ball when he got caught and tangled up by Kelly Olynyk. Love’s shoulder appeared to become gruesomely dislocated and caused instant panic throughout the Cavaliers franchise, and the city of Cleveland.
The Cavs didn’t allow the Love injury to stop them as they dominated Boston throughout the first half and the start of the third quarter to build a 21-point lead. The drama didn’t stop however as several times in that run rough play would continue.
Late in the second quarter, after Crowder gave Cavs swingman Iman Shumpert a shot going up the court on the previous play, he found himself on the receiving end of a stiff screen from Cleveland center Kendrick Perkins. Crowder hit the deck from the hard shot and the mêlée ensued once he got up.
At the start of the second half with the Cavs looking to build on a 21 point lead, J. R. Smith and Crowder battled for a rebound things got out of hand again as Crowder laid in several stiff shots to the back of Smith. Smith responded by rearing back and swinging his right arm backward, clocking Crowder right on the jaw.
Crowder crumpled to the floor following the punch, with his left knee trapped underneath him; as he lay on the hardwood, he reached for his left leg in pain. After reviewing the play, the referees deeming Smith’s swing to constitute “unnecessary and excessive” contact, meriting a flagrant foul-2 and an automatic ejection.
The Celtics used the ejections and injuries to play inspired basketball, along with questionable officiating to close the gap late in the final quarter and narrow the lead to only 6 points in the closing moments. The Cavs hung on and advanced, but the price they paid for the victory is only yet to be determined.
Early reports are that Kevin Love suffered a dislocated left shoulder. What impact this will have and what adjustments David Blatt will need to make, are yet to be seen.