Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 106, Cavaliers 87
Celtics 106, Cavaliers 87
Three days of rest feels like an eternity during the NBA's regular season. For some teams, it can be a Godsend to recover from nagging injuries. For other teams, such as ones that are playing great basketball, it can be a downer that throws them off of their A-game.
For the Boston Celtics, it may have been both tonight. At least for a few minutes.
The C's returned to action after their three-day rest period and came out of the gates in Cleveland looking like a rusty team that hadn't played in way too long. Cleveland's starters were outhustling Boston's, and the fact that the C's were playing sloppy basketball only made things worse. That conflicting play from these two teams allowed the Cavaliers, who had already knocked off the C's once this season in Quicken Loans Arena, to jump out to a 17-8 lead to begin the game. That was all before Ray Allen stole a pass from Antawn Jamison and slammed home a dunk to cut the lead to seven. From that point on, it was all green.
Dunks have seemed to become the common inspiration for a Boston team that has fallen behind to subpar teams. Those dunks, like Allen's, seem to wake the team up and, as cliche as it sounds, flip the switch. Well, the switch was flipped tonight, and after Allen's dunk the Celtics just poured it on the Cavaliers.
Boston went on to put together an 18-8 run that spanned from the end of the first quarter to the beginning of the second, turning that nine-point deficit into a 32-29 lead. The Celts would go on to score 35 points in the second quarter and take an 11-point lead into halftime.
It was a huge spurt for the C's, not only because it won the game, but because much of the energy that closed out the spurt came from its bench, which hasn't performed at a high level of late. Glen Davis and Nate Robinson were both key contributors to the turnaround, and the bench's play continued into the second half.
As Boston pulled away over the final 24 minutes of the game, eventually notching the 19-point victory, Davis put together a double-double and Marquis Daniels finished with a season-high 16 points. It has been a rarity of late for the C's that the starters could make a run and the reserves could keep it going. That wasn't an issue tonight, as everyone in the rotation played at a high level after they shook off the minimal rust that accumulated over the past three days.
Key Box Score Line
It wasn't easy leaving Rajon Rondo's name out of the box score line below, seeing as he spearheaded Boston's victory with his 23 points and 12 assists, but Glen Davis put together about as good a night as you could ask for from a player off of the bench.
Doc Rivers spoke at Monday's practice of Davis' recent funk, saying he thought Big Baby was beginning to play outside the realm of his abilities rather than letting the game come to him. Davis let the game come to him tonight, and he wound up with his first double-double of the season as a result.
Baby finished with 17 points off of the bench, which trailed only Rondo for the game-high, and also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. In netting those 17 points, Davis shot 7-of-14 from the field, including his first 3-pointer of the season as the shot clock expired with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game. It was that type of night for Boston's biggest reserve, who also happened to notch four assists; the kind of night where he exceeded any and all expectations his team can have of him while he comes off the bench.
Box Score Nuggets
- Three Celtics notched double-doubles: Kevin Garnett with 11 points and 10 rebounds, Rajon Rondo with 23 points and 12 assists, and Glen Davis with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
- Marquis Daniels scored a season-high 16 points off the bench while shooting 7-of-10 from the floor.
- Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Shaquille O'Neal all played 23 minuts.
- The Celtics scored 60 points in the paint to Cleveland's 26.
- Boston grabbed 49 rebounds to Cleveland's 45.
- Two Cavaliers (Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson) scored a team-high 16 points and two (Anthony Parker and Mo Williams) scored 13 points.
- J.J. Hickson and Joey Graham, Cleveland's starting three- and four-men, combined for only four points.
- Both teams made five 3-pointers. Cleveland attempted 15, while Boston attempted 13.
- Boston shot 50.6 percent from the floor, compared to Cleveland's 39.0 percent.
- Varejao grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, while Hickson grabbed 11 of his own.
- Boston committed five turnovers early in the game but finished with only 13.
- The Celtics blocked eight shots, three of which were by Paul Pierce.
- Pierce also finished with a game-high plus-23 in the plus/minus category despite playing only 23 minutes.
- All of Davis' 11 rebounds were at the defensive end.
- Of the seven Celtics who recorded an assist, Avery Bradley (one) was the only not to reach a multiple of two: Ray Allen, Shaq, Pierce and Nate Robinson each had two, Garnett and Davis had four and Rondo had 12.
Quote of the Night
Cavs head coach Byron Scott on what changed between the first and second quarters: "I think in the second quarter, they decided to play a little bit. They decided to come out and be a little bit more aggressive on both ends of the floor. It’s almost like that boxing match where you get punched in the face and you want to see how you are going to react. I thought we staggered, but we never really threw a punch back and I thought that was pretty much the difference."