Final Dime: Cavaliers 95, Celtics 87
Daniel Gibson drives for two of his 16 points in Wednesday's win.
David Liam Kyle
After one raucous evening on the corner of Huron and Ontario, the coach proved true to his word.
The new-look Cavaliers trailed by 11 late in the third quarter, but instead of folding, took the fight directly to the Eastern Conference Champs – outscoring Boston 27-14 in the final period and holding on for the dramatic 95-87 win on Wednesday night at The Q.
“It’s a great win for us against a very, very good Boston Celtics team – a well-coached team,” beamed Byron Scott. “For us to win this game at home and start the season off this way is great, but we can’t have a let down on Friday on the road. We’re going to enjoy this victory because it was big time for us.”
Wednesday’s win had all the energy of a playoff game, maybe even more than the last time Boston was in the building. By the time Daniel Gibson was icing the affair with four straight free throws, the crowd was deafening.
Gibson scored all 16 of his points in the second half, erupting for 11 in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers quickly erased Boston’s two-point advantage to start the final period. Boobie added a team-high eight assists in the win.
J.J. Hickson led everyone with 21 points, going 8-for-11 from the floor in 30 action-packed minutes. Ramon Sessions chipped in with 14 points, three assists and a pair of steals. Three other Cavaliers – Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker and Ryan Hollins – added 10 points apiece.
Anderson Varejao led the Wine and Gold with 10 boards, adding eight points on 3-for-4 shooting along with four assists, a steal and a blocked shot. As always, Andy also managed to get under the Celtics skin, frustrating Kevin Garnett into a scoreless second half.
One night after topping the new-look Miami Heat in Beantown, the Celtics came to Cleveland hoping to break a young club’s will. They never trailed in the third quarter, but came unglued in the fourth – with Boobie tying the game and giving Cleveland the lead following a pair of Celtic technical fouls.
Following the emotional win, the Cavaliers take the show north of the border where they’ll face the Raptors on Friday night in Toronto.
2. Including Wednesday night’s win, the Cavaliers have now won nine of their last ten regular season contests against Boston at The Q.
3. After missing most of Training Camp and the preseason with a groin injury and, most recently, some personal matters, Mo Williams didn’t dress for Wednesday’s home opener. He’s listed as day-to-day. Ramon Sessions got the start in his place.
4. The Cavaliers current roster features five new players: Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Joey Graham, Manny Harris, Christian Eyenga and Samardo Samuels. Eyenga and Samuels were in street clothes, Joey Graham and Manny Harris got DNP-CDs, Sessions notched 14 points and Hollins did some excellent work in the post – going 4-for-6 from the field with four boards and a steal.
5. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert spoke to the media before Wednesday’s contest. And despite the questioning aimed at his former small forward, Gilbert continued to look forward.
“We’re all focused on the future,” said Gilbert. “I’m just like any other fan, as anxious as everybody to see what this looks like. I feel really good about it. Byron Scott’s a class act who’s well-loved and well-respected by a lot of people. And he’s had a lot of history that’s very positive. So I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
6. Seated a few spots away from the Celtics bench along the sideline was the Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. The Boston native made his way toward the exit as Cleveland closed the affair late in the fourth.
7. While Joe Tait recovers from ailments that could sideline him until after the new year, Mike Snyder and Jim Chones assumed radio play-by-play duties. And during a timeout, Austin Carr took center court to wish the voice of the Cavaliers a speedy recovery.
8. After totaling just five points in the first half – all by Ryan Hollins – Cleveland’s reserves finished with 32 for the game, including a stretch of 20 straight points from the 2:12 mark of the third quarter to the 7:42 mark of the fourth.
9. The Cavs finished the preseason as the second-best free throw shooting team in the NBA. (After finishing dead last in the regular season last year.) On Wednesday, they went 17-21 (.810) from the stripe. They were 9-of-9 in the final period.
10. With the win, the Cavaliers’ all-time mark in home openers is now 16-25. In season openers overall, the Cavaliers are now 11-30.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.