The Celtics came into Cleveland with the league’s best record. They ran into a Cavs team determined to remind them who the defending conference champs are.
This was a truly great game. Both teams made runs, and each had big baskets or defensive stops to keep the game within reach. Back and forth they went. The Cavs won the first period, the Celtics roared back in the second. The Cavs came out strong in the third, then lost the lead in the fourth. They made a serious run with about 5 minutes left in the game, only to see Boston storm back to take the lead again. In the final minute Ray Allen missed on two free throws after Sasha nailed a huge three in the corner. LeBron held for a final shot, but missed sending the game to the OT.
This was one of those games that anyone could have won. Had it gone a few minutes longer I’m sure the Celtics would have made another run to tie it, or take the lead. But the clock ran out on Boston, and the Cavs came away with only the second win against the Celtics this season, 109-104.
LeBron was his usual, pouring in 38 points including 11 in the extra frame. He had a team high 13 assists to go along with 4 boards, 2 steals and 2 huge blocks. The story of the game however was Drew Gooden. Gooden had 24 points and 13 rebounds, but absolutely caught fire in the 3rd with 16 points on only 8 attempts. He grabbed some huge rebounds (5 to be exact) for the Cavs in the overtime as well.
Early on Zydrunas had the hot hand. Big Z moved well without the ball and scored 8 in the first, most on mid-range shots. Z finished with 15 and Sasha had 16. In fact the Cavs starters accounted for 101 of the 109 points for the night. For those keeping track of Z’s minutes with us…try this number for size, 45. Yep. Zydrunas logged 45 minutes tonight. Can you say zombie Wednesday night in Detroit? All the Cleveland starters played over 40 minutes in this one. Hope there is a good sleepy movie on that flight.
What I liked about this win was the commitment to defense and desire to win this basketball game. They were able to send a small message to the Celtics. That message is we don’t care how many all-star appearances you have, you are going to have to play your best to beat us. Message sent. In fact, this game got a little chippy. Devin Brown got mixed up a little with a few Celtics, and LeBron had a running argument with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all night.
For the Celtics, they needed to use Garnett a lot more in this game. Z and Drew did a fine job of boxing him out, limiting him to only 5 rebounds, but he was able to score when he got the ball. Plus he was making smart decisions with his passes as well. Ray Allen led them with 29 points, and Pierce contributed 16. By the way, Paul Pierce does not look like an all-star to me anymore. His best days are behind him. Sure he is going to score, but with the attention that teams have to pay to Garnett and Allen, Pierce should be able to get all kinds of good looks. Color me unimpressed with his game anymore.
Let’s see what kind of energy the Cavs can muster against the Pistons. I expect to see a lot of Devin Brown, Damon Jones and the ‘small’ line-up tomorrow. Great win guys.