The Cleveland Cavaliers are down three games to one against the Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum-led Boston Celtics in the NBA Playoffs. A lot of it has to do with the squad being with the injury bug. First, it was Jarrett Allen who went down. Then, Donovan Mitchell went down and could not perform. An additional headache hit JB Bickerstaff without these players. Not only did he have to figure out schemes and rotations, but the Cavs head coach also had to argue with some of the officials.

JB Bickerstaff blasts the officials

May 3, 2024; Orlando, Florida, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kia Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Coach JB Bickerstaff was not at all pleased with how the Cavs lost to the Celtics with a narrow 102 to 109 scoreline. He specifically did not like how the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown-led squad got most of the whistles while Darius Garland and the rest of his roster were getting pounded but not getting calls. This frustration reached its boiling point during the post-game presser and he just could not help but express it, via Logan Potosky of Sports Illustrated.

“I’ll be honest with you, I was disappointed with the way the whistle blew tonight. I thought our guys deserved much better, the way that they were competing. They were attacking the paint, they were getting after it the same, both teams were. We’re not asking for anything more, but we’re asking for equality. And I don’t think we got an equal opportunity at it tonight from that standpoint,” the Cavs head honcho declared.

The Celtics only got the whistle blown on them 12 times in Game 4. Meanwhile, the Cavs did not enjoy the same luxury as they ended the game with 17 fouls. The free throw disparity was also quite obvious. JB Bickerstaff’s squad were only given seven attempts from the charity stripe and they only knocked down five of them. Jayson Tatum and the rest of his crew, hear this, got 24 chances at the line and sank 21 of them.

What happened in Cavs vs. Celtics?

The game plan for the Celtics was to keep penetrating the Cavs’ defense on the inside. A huge goal was to spread the floor out such that Coach Bickerstaff made his personnel anticipate the drives to the basket. When Joe Mazzulla successfully shrunk the Cavs’ defense, it was easier to make it rain from downtown. The Cavs had a hard time dealing with the schemes that came along with that offensive philosophy.

To put it into perspective, Tatum alone got nine chances at the free-throw line. Jaylen Brown also got the same amount of opportunities but only sank seven, unlike his running mate who notched all nine. In contrast, only Evan Mobley had the most free throw attempts for the Cavs. Even then, the big man only got three chances because of the whistle.

Coach Bickerstaff did employ more physical schemes to draw more fouls. Unfortunately, they just were not called in this matchup at all. Hopefully, all of that can change such that they shift the momentum of this series. It won’t be the first time they come back from three to one.