The Cavs and Celts may have only met once in the playoffs in recent years, which is a little hard to believe, but the rivalry is nasty and deep-seated. They've fought for top-dog status at the top of the Eastern Conference each of the last four years, and those four regular season bouts each season are just that — bouts. Bloody and chippy, built on a grudge. There's a reason Mo Williams declared, "We don't like them. They don't like us."
Fans got a precursor of how the Eastern Conference Semis might play out between the Celtics and the Cavs the last time the two teams were on the same floor.
It was the near-classic contest on April 4th when Boston had blown a 20-point second half lead and LeBron James missed a three with under five seconds to play that would have put the Cavs up. After the miss with 3.2 seconds remaining and during the subsequent time out, LeBron found himself in the middle of the Celtics huddle near their bench. Surrounded by white jerseys, LeBron was verbally hashing it out with a couple Celts.
Tony Allen was chirping at LeBron. Kevin Garnett was chirping too. And in the background, there was Paul Pierce getting in some words of his own. And I'm sure LeBron was just letting them know he wouldn't miss next time, even as the Celts were crowing that they'd stop him again. (Quick note: As the Sports Guy tweeted that night, "BTW, Tony Allen caused all the bad blood by trashtalking LBJ after the missed 3. Savvy, Tony. Piss off the best player alive.")
The culmination of the physical game — six techs were dolled out between the two teams — was heated but playful trash talk banter. Knowing they'd be tipping off against one another at some point in the playoffs, there was a brief contest of who could puff out their chest further, just so the other team would have something to look forward to come playoff time.
So, yeah, expect some hard fouls (it's only a matter of time before Perkins goes after LeBron's elbow, right?), blood, and I'm betting at least one ejection.
With that in mind, here's the CliffNotes version of how we got here in video form, starting with the above mentioned game in April where LeBron took residence in Boston's huddle and Tony Allen did a really smart thing in calling out the best player in the league. Surely that's going to end well for Mr. Allen.
Then there's the always classy preseason game fight between Sheldon Williams and Mo Williams.
The "Sit your ass down" hard foul in the playoffs.
Big Baby maybe but probably not trying to intentionally injure Shaq's broken finger.
And, finally, LeBron's vicious assault on Kevin Garnett's face. (I'm sure I'm missing more, I know.)