|Fast Break: Celtics let one get away||01.29.12 at 8:22 pm ET|
The Celtics had the game well in hand and then, everything fell apart. They went scoreless for the final four and a half minutes and rookie guard Kyrie Irving sliced through the defense for a layup with 2.6 seconds left to give the Cavaliers an 88-87 win. Paul Pierce missed a shot jumper at the buzzer.
The loss snapped the Celtics four-game winning streak and was easily one of their worst of the season. The two teams are back in action again on Tuesday in Cleveland.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– The Cavs took advantage of Jermaine O’Neal‘s absence by attacking the paint at every opportunity. Sixteen of their first 19 points were scored in the paint and they finished with 54 for the game. Anderson Varejao had his way with the Celtics’ bigs and Irving was able to penetrate at will.
– Irving took Avery Bradley apart, scoring 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
– At times the Celtics were careful with the ball. At others — such as in the second quarter when they turned it over seven times — they were careless. When they kept the turnovers at a minimum, the Cavs couldn’t stop them.
– The Celtics reserves were outscored 30-14.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Ray Allen returned to the lineup and the Big Three were once again whole. They scored 50 of the Celtics’ 70 points through the first three quarters and made 20-of-29 shots. Allen finished with 22 points, but missed a layup that would have given the Celtics a nine-point lead. That’s when the Cavs made their run.
– Paul Pierce had another strong all-around game with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.
– The Celtics almost won this game with offense. They shot 52 percent and had assists on eight of their 10 made shots in the first quarter. They couldn’t keep up the pace, but it was one of their best extended stretches of passing this season.
– The bench didn’t have a strong game (see below), but they were able to maintain a lead in the fourth quarter while Pierce and Garnett were able to rest. Sasha Pavlovic made two big shots including a baseline dunk.