|02.25.10 at 10:48 pm ET|
Well, it happened again.
The Celtics blew a one-point fourth quarter lead and found themselves looking at a double-digit deficit down the stretch.
The Cavaliers simply had more hustle and more energy when it counted. They outscored the Celtics 35-14 in the fourth to take away a 108-88 victory in Boston.
Player of the Game: LeBron James carried his team the entire game. He had scored 32 of the Cavaliers 73 points after three and finished the night with 36.
Turning Point:The Cavaliers took a 75-74 lead off of a J.J. Hickson bucket and never looked back. Even with James on the bench, they stretched the lead and created a cushion for James when he returned.
– Kendrick Perkins and James got involved in a tiff in the fourth quarter. Perkins took offense to James’ foul, and Anderson Varejao stepped in to interject. Varejao got whistled for a technical.
– It was a night of debuts at the Garden. Former Celtic Leon Powe played his first game of the regular season while newly acquired Marcus Landry made his debut for the C’s.
|02.25.10 at 10:14 pm ET|
Third quarters have been causes for concern for the Celtics this season. The good news for the C’s is they didn’t blow the lead. The not-so-good news for the Celtics is the Cavs got back within one.
The C’s entered the third quarter up eight, 56-48. But the more LeBron James got to the basket, the smaller their edge got. The Cavs trailed just 74-73 heading into the fourth.
James scored 12 points in the quarter and got to the line seven times. (He made four attempts.) Ray Allen led the Celtics with seven points in the quarter, but Rajon Rondo added just one to his total (15 points).
The Celtics have contained James’ teammates so far, but no lead is ever guaranteed with a clutch player on the court late in the game.
|02.25.10 at 9:20 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo has 14 points and eight assists, while Ray Allen has 13 on 5-for-7 shooting and 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Kevin Garnett also had a big half with eight points and six rebounds. LeBron James leads all scorers with 21 points.
Doc Rivers played Rondo and Nate Robinson together in the backcourt for a significant stretch of the second quarter. The Cavalier guards presented an excellent opportunity for Rivers to try the alignment as Mo Williams and Delonte West don’t present matchup problems with their size. Robinson scored six quick points off jump shots on the pick and roll.
Shaquille O’Neal went to the locker room halfway through the second quarter. He will miss the rest of the game after suffering a thumb injury. Former Celtic Leon Powe made his season debut for the Cavaliers and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Powe had been rehabbing after knee surgery.
|02.25.10 at 8:57 pm ET|
Doc Rivers hinted before Thursday’s game with Cleveland that he planned to employ several different defensive strategies on LeBron James, including using one of his best big defenders on the big guard.
With Paul Pierce out for the second straight game with a sprained thumb and Marquis Daniels weakened with flu-like symptoms, Rivers was forced to get creative to come up with ways to defend the 6-8 swingman.
“Tony [Allen]is the other guy right now, and then Marcus [Landry] maybe, Scal maybe, maybe Kevin [Garnett],” Rivers said. “We’ll find that out. We don’t know what Marquis can give us so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
|02.25.10 at 8:44 pm ET|
Rondo had a hand in all of the Celtics first 21 points. He scored 10 of them himself and assisted on the other five field goals as the C’s made 10 of their first 13 shots before a Cleveland timeout. He finished the quarter with 12 points and six assists.
Paul Pierce did not play (thumb, flu) and Doc Rivers suggested before the game that he could miss more time. The Celtics play the lowly Nets on Saturday and then don’t play again until Tuesday so there’s good chance to get him some rest. Marquis Daniels did play despite suffering from the flu. Daniels started in Pierce’s place and drew the assignment of guarding LeBron James.
James kept the Cavaliers in the game with 10 points.
|02.25.10 at 7:34 pm ET|
Paul Pierce will miss his second straight game with a sprained right thumb while Marquis Daniels will start after missing Wednesday’s practice with flu-like symptoms. Doc Rivers made the announcement in his pre-game chat with reporters.
|02.25.10 at 1:00 pm ET|
And for both teams – who meet tonight at TD Garden at 8 p.m. – the perspective has changed.
The Celtics went into Quicken Loans Arena on Oct. 27 and came away with a 95-89 win and served notice that they were intent on reclaiming their perch atop the Eastern Conference with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in full stride.
That night Pierce led a balanced attack with 23 points, overcoming a game-high 38 from LeBron James. But C’s coach Doc Rivers said beyond the final score, there’s not much to take from the result that night.
“Nah, they’re not the same team,” Rivers said. “We’re not the same team. We won. We can take that away from it but other than that, I think both teams have forgotten about that.”
Indeed. Since then, the two teams have taken different paths. The Cavs, after losing their first two and starting the season 3-3, have rebounded to claim the top spot in the East and the NBA at 44-14, despite a recent three-game skid.
[Click here to listen to Rivers explain how Cavaliers are different than opening night.]
The Celtics, who stood 23-5 following a Christmas Day win over Orlando, have battled injuries and inconsistency and stand 36-19, just ahead of fourth-place Atlanta by a game in the loss column.
Both teams made moves at the trading deadline to strengthen themselves. While the Celtics added firepower with Nate Robinson, Cleveland acquired more front court athleticism in Antawn Jamisoin, dealing away Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Cavs lost their first three games following the trade with Jamison in the starting lineup before he scored 18 in Tuesday’s win over New Orleans.
“They are different, watching them on tape the last two games,” Rivers said. “The Jamison thing has changed them a little bit. It definitely makes it more difficult to guard them so we have to get ready for that.” Read the rest of this entry »
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