Tonight the Celtics went on the road eager to avenge one of their early season losses versus the surprisingly contentious Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs brought a sub-.500 record into the night at 7-9, but suffice it to say that this is much better than any of us saw coming in the absence of King James. The Quicken Loans Arena has provided an awfully harsh environment for the Celtics in recent memory, as Boston came in at just 3-10 with the Big 3 in games at “the Q”. Tonight, however, may have swung the momentum in the Celtics favor for quite some time to come.
The contest wouldn’t be a completely florid affair for the C’s, as they faced their struggles in the early going. The first quarter saw an early explosion of energy from the Cavaliers that left the C’s wide-eyed and flat flooted. Pierce was relegated to the bench just 2 minutes and 34 seconds into the game due to 2 quick fouls. Shaq’s usual offensive outpouring also seemed to be marginalized by the human firecracker, Anderson Varejao. Varejao was all over every loose ball, garnering a quick 6 points and 4 rebounds in the first several minutes. Shaq, clearly unable to match the speed of Varejao, it seemed, had finally met his match this year, looking much more like a statue than the beast we have become accustomed to seeing. After the early run, however, the C’s were finally able to put together some consistency on the offensive end. Rajon Rondo took over the scoring responsibilities for the second half of the quarter, pouring in a quick 11 points on 5 of 6 made baskets. A 9 point deficit had been cut to just 2 at quarters end thanks to the offensive tenacity of Rondo.
In the 2nd the C’s started to get it together as a team. During the middle part of the quarter, the Celtics mounted an 18-4 run, behind 7 points a piece from Marquis Daniels and Paul Pierce. A 36-36 tie had been quickly transformed to a 54-40 lead for the C’s in just 4 minutes of play. A team known for getting up big early and experiencing several ignominious 2nd quarters on the year appeared to have quite the opposite start this evening. Boston went into the break up 11, poised not to let their lead slip away like the last time they were in Cleveland.
Despite the continuous explosive effort from Anderson Varejao, who ended the night with16 points and 12 rebounds on 7-12 shooting, the C’s stayed the course throughout the duration of the 3rd. Rondo again had ownership of this quarter, as he posted 6 points and 4 assists in the frame, 3 of which came on consecutive baskets to 3 different players. Tommy Heinsohn, the often brash Celtics color commentator, let it be known throughout the contest that no one on the Cavs had the capabilities to guard Rondo.
While most nights, the point guard match-up is the spotlight of the night, tonight Rondo had no one near the capabilities of a Paul, Williams, Rose, Westbrook, Nash, or Kidd standing in front of him. For this reason the C’s were able to have their way in the paint (amassing a 60-26 margin by nights end), as Rondo penetrated at will. Whether he was making the easy layup or dishing it out to the open man, Rondo continued to facilitate better than any other player in the game. Neither Williams or Booby Gibson even had a chance to keep Rondo in front of them. In fact, the only exciting aspect of the Cavs point guard situation, it seemed, was the resoundingly ominous Godfather Theme Song that accompanied any made 3 by Mo Williams. The C’s need a niche like that for one of their players. I vote to have the infamous Kevin Garnett scream follow any basket he contends after the whistle blows. It would really help ramp up the intensity of the team, as well as the crowd.
Despite playing limited minutes (only 23), Paul Pierce had an impressive effort on the defensive end in the 3rd, blocking 3 shots–2 on efforts from Mo Williams and 1 on Jamario Moon. Heading into the 4th with a comfortable 15 point lead, the C’s were able to sidestep a cataclysmic collapse and dispose their starters to the bench with only KG and Rondo logging minimal minutes in the final frame. At the end of the night 3 C’s had posted a double-double, Rondo with 23 and 12, KG with 11 and 10, and Big Baby with 17 and 11. The underrated shining star of this game was Marquis Daniels, who had a superb effort off of the bench with 16 points on 7-10 shooting. Marquis was integral in the Celtics effort to storm ahead in the 2nd and helped solidify a bench effort that is missing key characters is Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West.
It was reported that Delonte underwent surgery on his fractured right wrist this afternoon, an injury that still has no projected timetable for his return. The Celtics hope to continue the plow through the competition and nab their 5th straight win tomorrow night versus the young and athletic Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers come into the contest at 8-8, and once again without their number 1 pick Greg Oden for the duration of the season due to surgery on his left knee.
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.