Final Dime: Cavaliers 101, Celtics 93
Mo Williams scored 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter of Saturday night's win.
David Liam Kyle
Cleveland trailed through most of the first three quarters – and looked lethargic doing so – but Mo keyed a 21-9 run to end the third and LeBron James and a swarming defense took over in the fourth, willing the Cavaliers to the critical 101-93 win in Game 1 at The Q.
As Boston built their early lead, Mo spent most of the night chasing Rajon Rondo – who was carving Cleveland up. But momentum shifted dramatically when Williams picked Rondo and threw down a massive (and rare) fastbreak dunk over Paul Pierce – sending the soldout crowd into a frenzy and giving the Cavaliers new life.
Mo would go on to score Cleveland’s next six points and the re-energized Cavaliers would go take a one-point lead into the final period.
At that point, the Cavaliers looked to their “closer.” And LeBron did not disappoint – netting 12 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, including the three-point bomb with 23 seconds to play to put the Cavaliers up eight and sent the Celtics to the showers.
"(The dunk) gave us energy as a team, but then right after that, I hit a jumper and then three or four plays in a row after that, they called my number and I was productive," said Williams.
On the evening, LeBron went an even 12-for-24 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, to go with seven boards, a team-high seven assists, three steals and a pair of blocked shots. Clearly favoring his sore right elbow, the current and future MVP was 8-of-11 from the stripe.
"You have to attack against a real aggressive defensive team, and that’s what Boston is," said James. "They try to force you to take jumpers but you can’t settle all the time. It’s going to start with me first and its going to trickle down to everyone else that we can’t settle."
"Just as the game went along, (LeBron) got more aggressive and more aggressive and more aggressive -- and shots started to fall," praised Coach Brown.
Mo Williams notched 14 of his 20 points in the decisive third quarter, going 6-for-9 in the period and 8-for-14 overall. Mo added six assists, five boards and a steal.
The Cavaliers center combination of Shaquille O’Neal and J.J. Hickson added 11 points apiece – with J.J. giving Cleveland a spark in the first half and O’Neal dominating the paint like the old Diesel in the fourth quarter.
As a team, the Cavaliers shot 49 percent while holding the Celtics to 44 percent from the floor. Cleveland scored 36 points in the third quarter and held Boston to just 15 in the fourth.
Rondo paced the Celtics with 27 points, but only three in the fourth quarter, after Shaq and Co. sent him to the floor on several occasions. No Celtic netted double-figures in the second half on Saturday.
Both squads will regroup on Sunday and gear up for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semis on Monday night at The Q.
2. This is the fifth time the Cavaliers and Celtics have met in the postseason – the 1976 Conference Finals, 1985 First Round, 1992 Conference Semis and the 2008 Conference Semifinals. Boston leads the series all-time, 3-1.
3. The Cavaliers are the only team in the NBA to advance to the Conference Semis five straight seasons. Their 65 games of postseason experience is the most in the league over that span.
4. Mo Williams threw down his first dunk as a Cavalier and it came at the perfect time. From the point of Mo’s throwdown through the rest of the evening, the Wine and Gold outscored Boston, 43-24.
"My intention was to kind of shoot what I call a 'floater layup' and try to fade away from him a little bit so (Pierce) couldn’t get to it," beamed Williams. "I realized I was a little high. So I was like ‘I think I might try it’. It turned out good. It was a great feeling, I’ll tell you that."
5. The Cavaliers have now won 13 of their last 14 postseason games at The Q. Since the 2006 playoffs, Cleveland is 26-7 -- the most wins in the NBA over that span.
6. There was some concern in the final weeks of the regular season about Antawn Jamison’s free throw struggles, but the career 72 percent shooter has returned to form, shooting 73 percent (19-26) in the postseason.
7. The Cavaliers and Celtics truly utilize homecourt advantage during the postseason. Cleveland is now 10-3 at home all-time against Boston in the playoffs. Conversely, the Cavs are 1-11 in Boston. Including the epic 2008 East Semifinals and Saturday night’s contest, the home team has won each of the last eight games.
8. Including regular and postseason, LeBron is averaging 30.1 ppg for his career against the Celtics – the only player besides Michael Jordan to average 30-plus points against Boston for a career.
9. Some of the celebrities on hand for Game 1 in Cleveland: Candace Parker – Anthony’s sister, Shelden Williams’ wife and the best woman player in the world. Also on hand were former NFL star, Cris Carter (wearing a WITNESS t-shirt) and, seated near the Cavaliers’ bench, R&B superstar, Usher.
10. The Cavaliers got excellent bench production on Saturday, outscoring Boston’s reserves, 27-12. The trio of Jamario Moon, J.J. Hickson and Delonte West were a combined 10-for-14 from the floor.