Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 87, Cavaliers 95
Celtics 87, Cavaliers 95
The irony of Boston’s opening two games of the season gained even more steam in the fourth quarter of tonight’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. One night after the C’s pummeled LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the majority of the game, the LeBron-less Cavs proved to be a much stronger force than the talented squad from South Beach.
Doc Rivers titled this game a quintessential “trap game” earlier this week, and it wound up being exactly that. The C’s landed in Cleveland at approximately 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, and that late night may have played a role in the team’s sluggish play tonight.
Boston nearly pulled away on numerous occasions, but Cleveland was able to bypass the threat and continue to keep this game close – close enough that just a couple of bounces (or, better yet, ticks of the clock) here and there could sway the game in their favor. And that’s exactly what happened.
Cleveland had possession of the ball with less than three minutes remaining in the game as it held onto an 86-84 lead. The Cavs were unable to muster up a shot in the first 23 seconds of the shot clock, but fortunately for them, they may have had 24.5 seconds to find a good look.
With just one second visually remaining on the shot clock, Anthony Parker took a pass at the top of the key and, all in that single second of time managed to do the following: catch the pass, turn to the basket, make a slight ball fake, nearly take a dribble, rise in the air behind the 3-point line to release a normal – not a rushed-release – shot from behind the arc. Before the shot even made it to the hoop, every Celtic was wondering how in the world it wasn’t already ruled a shot clock violation. By the time they realized it hadn’t, the ball had fallen through the net and the Cavs had taken a five-point lead with with 2:27 remaining in the game.
Yes, that was plenty of time for the C’s to retake the lead, but it wasn’t going to happen on this night. In a complete flip from Tuesday night’s opener, Boston was the team who failed to make the plays in crunch time while Cleveland tacked on six points via free throws. The Celtics scored only three points after Parker’s 3-pointer, which was later reviewed and upheld, and that allowed Cleveland to pull out an emotional home opener, 95-87.
Key Box Score Line
There must be something in the air at Quicken Loans Arena that gets Kevin Garnett’s legs feeling like they’re 25 years old again. Garnett pulled off a feat tonight in Cleveland that he hadn’t matched since Jan. 9, 2009 in… you guessed it, Cleveland.
It’s been a long time since anyone has seen KG attacking the glass the way he did tonight, and it’s definitely a pleasing sight to take in. He dominated the boards against Cleveland en route to 15 rebounds. The last time he reached that plateau was in that Jan. 9, 2009 game against the Cavs.
And it wasn’t like these balls were just falling into hit mitts. Garnett was attacking the basketball with a ferocity that we just haven’t seen out of him in a year and a half. He extended far into the air to grab loose balls above crowds, snatched balls in from packed crowds and bumped the opposition out of his way all night long.
Garnett still hasn’t found his stride on offense, but that will come with time. The rebounding aspect of his game has already arrived, and the C’s couldn’t be happier to see it reemerge.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston made only two of its 12 3-point attempts.
- J.J. Hickson scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor.
- Kevin Garnett's 15 rebounds were the most he's grabbed since Jan. 9, 2009 in Cleveland.
- Garnett (nine points, 15 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (18 points, nine assists) both finished just shy of a double-double.
- Six of the nine Cavs who played in tonight's game scored in double figures.
- Boston committed 19 turnovers.
- Glen Davis notched 32:54 of playing time off the bench.
- Jermaine O'Neal fouled out of the game in only 12:22 of playing time.
- Both teams attempted 21 free throws, with Cleveland making 17 and Boston making 16. It was the second straight game Boston and its opponent took the exact same amount of free throws.
- Both teams dished out 24 assists, with Rondo's nine leading the C's and Daniel Gibson's eight leading the Cavs.
- Nate Robinson picked up a technical foul as a result of his leg flailing as he attempted a layup after a whistle, and Shaquille O'Neal picked up an additional technical arguing the call during a timeout.
- The two teams were tied 10 times in the game and exchanged a lead 10 times as well.
- Davis had another fantastic game off the bench with 14 points and five rebounds.
Quote of the Night
Kwvin Garnett on the Cavaliers: I think they value that their true strength is playing together. They don’t have that one or two go-to-guys, but they do play well together. They play hard, and when you don’t match that, you find yourself in difficulty. When you play together, you dilute the responsibility