Final Dime: Cavaliers 104, Celtics 93


J.J. Hickson notched 12 points in Sunday's win over Boston.
David Liam Kyle
NBAE/Getty Images
1. Earlier in the week, LeBron James himself said that rumors of Boston’s demise were greatly exaggerated. But after manhandling the once-mighty Celtics for the second time in three weeks, maybe the tide really has turned in the East.

LeBron scored 24 of his game-high 30 points after intermission and the Cavaliers – who never trailed after the first quarter – proceeded to dismantle Boston, 104-93, on Sunday afternoon at The Q.

In a typically contentious affair between the two Eastern Conference heavyweights, the Wine and Gold showed off their depth and versatility – especially on the front line. With Shaq on the shelf, the combination of Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao combined for 32 points and 22 boards to thoroughly frustrate Boston’s bigs.

Ray Allen canned a three-pointer to tie the game at 68-apiece midway through the third, but the Wine and Gold went on a 12-4 to close the quarter.

In the fourth, it was the James and Jamison show – with the pair combining for 18 points and seven boards in the closing period. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each canned a pair of treys in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late for a reeling Boston club that has lost for the third time in their last four outings.

“We felt we were aggressive and we felt that we earned a win tonight,” said Coach Brown. “Our guys are a tremendous group of guys and have played a physical style of basketball throughout most of the year and in a game like this, you don’t expect anything different.”

For the Cavaliers, it was their eighth win in their last nine games, and it firmly established them as the big dogs of the Conference. Cleveland is now 4-2 this season against both Boston and Orlando.

LeBron went 9-for-21 from the floor and 11-of-16 from the stripe on Sunday, adding eight boards, a game-high seven assists, two steals and three blocked shots, including a second-quarter swatting of Paul Pierce that keyed a Mo Williams run-out and layup on the other end.

“I was doing a lot of setting up in the first half,” said James. “I got my guys good looks and opportunities at the baskets. I had to be a little more assertive individually in the second half and attack some of the things that I saw but didn’t attack in the first half.”

Anderson Varejao, working in his usual rhythm with James, followed up with 17 points and 10 boards – six on the offensive glass – while simultaneously driving Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins crazy. The Wild Thing even had Garnett barking at the baseline fans late in the fourth.

Jamison, who returned after missing Friday night’s affair in Philly, doubled-up with 15 points and a game-high 12 boards. Mo Williams notched eight of his 14 points in the second quarter, including a pair of three-pointers. J.J. Hickson rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, tallying 10 of his 12 points in the first half.

In a playoff-like matchup, neither team shot the ball particularly well. But the Cavaliers committed just eight turnovers on the afternoon, out-rebounded Boston by eight, 51-43, and blocked seven Celtics’ shots.

The Cavaliers have one more meeting with Boston – on Easter Sunday afternoon in Beantown. But first, Cleveland will concentrate on this week’s back-to-back, on Tuesday in Detroit and home on Wednesday against the Pacers.

2. The Cavaliers dropped Boston for the second time this season and have won nine of their last ten against the Celtics at The Q.

3. Cleveland has now gone a league-best 26-7 in 2010. If the Cavaliers finish with the best mark in the league this year, they’ll be the first team since the 1995-97 Bulls to have the NBA’s best record in consecutive seasons.

4. The Cavaliers are now 40-2 when they hit the century mark.

5. LeBron James is averaging 34.7 points, 8.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds in three games against Boston this season. His career average against the Celtics is 30.4 points. Since LeBron’s rookie season, he’s notched 14 games of 30-plus points, most of any player. Only one player in history has higher mark against the Celtics: Michael Jordan at 30.7.

6. The Cavaliers give up the fewest bench points in the NBA at 26.1 and kept Boston completely in check on Sunday afternoon. The Celts reserves totaled just 15 points, with Rasheed Wallace, Michael Finley, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson combining to go 3-for-21 from the floor.

7. Anderson Varejao notched his second straight double-double and 11th on the season. Over his last two games against the Celtics, the Wild Thing is 12-for-15 from the floor. Cleveland is now 10-1 when Andy notches a double-double; 30-5 all-time.

8. Leon Powe didn’t tally a field goal on Sunday, but did turn in some strong minutes against his old team. Powe played eight minutes, netting six points on a perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe, adding four boards in the win.

9. Antawn Jamison returned to the lineup with another strong outing – doubling-up for the fourth time in 11 games with Cleveland. Jamison’s only Achilles’ heel has been his free throw shooting. Jamison went 1-for-7 from the line on Sunday and the career 73 percent shooter is at just .435 with the Cavaliers.

10. The Wine and Gold has now won 27 of their last 29 at The Q. Since the start of last season, the Cavaliers are a league-best 68-6 (.919) on their home floor.