Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 86, Cavaliers 83
Celtics 86, Cavaliers 83
The Boston Celtics, losers of five consecutive games, needed a win tonight. It’s that simple, and everyone on the roster knew it.
They can pat themselves on the back for the entire flight home from Cleveland knowing that they delivered on that necessity.
Tonight’s 86-83 victory over the Cavaliers in Cleveland wasn’t always pretty. It started out great, became quite choppy, and then came down to the final minute. But in that final minute – the most critical minute of the game – Boston did everything it needed to do in order to step back into the win column.
The Celtics jumped ahead by 16 points early on but Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers wouldn’t go away quietly, a trait Boston knows all too well this season. Irving scored 13 points in the third quarter and 24 in the game to lead Cleveland’s comeback.
In the end, though, a big dose of Kevin Garnett was too much for the Cavaliers to handle.
Irving committed a critical turnover with 51 seconds left when Garnett broke up a dish off of a pick-and-roll. Garnett tossed the ball ahead quickly to Ray Allen for an uncontested slam dunk to put the Celtics ahead 82-81 with 48 seconds remaining in the game.
Moments later, Irving nearly committed the exact same turnover while trying to kick the ball back out to Tristan Thompson at the top of the key. Cleveland avoided disaster, as Allen deflected the loose ball out of bounds, but Irving wound up missing a driving layup on the Cavs’ ensuing possession. Garnett grabbed the defensive rebound with 26 seconds left on the clock and the C’s went the other way.
Sticking with the trend, Boston went to Garnett at the other end of the floor. He fired up an errant 16-footer with just less than five seconds remaining but was able to snag the offensive rebound shortly thereafter. As KG grabbed the big rebound, Antawn Jamison shoved him in the chest and sent him to the free-throw line with 3.9 seconds left in the game. Garnett nailed both free throws to put the C’s ahead 84-81.
The teams went on to exchange free throws in the final seconds of the game. Boston intentionally fouled Irving, who hit both free throws, to prevent a 3-point shot attempt. Allen was then fouled and he hit both free throws to put the C’s back on top by three with 2.4 seconds left. Anthony Parker’s 3-pointer as time expired ricocheted off of the rim to seal Boston’s victory.
Tonight’s win certainly wasn’t a pretty one, that much is a fact, but the Celtics don’t care how they collect their victories. They can thank the Big Ticket tonight for delivering big plays in the clutch and helping the team avoid a sixth consecutive loss
Key Box Score Line
Several players on Boston’s roster contributed to tonight’s important victory in Cleveland, but none may have been more important than Ray Allen. Allen, who scored a team-high 22 points, was the most consistent Celtics player from start to finish and his two free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining put the icing on the cake.
Allen did exactly what he’s paid to do tonight: shoot the ball through the basket. He made eight of his 14 attempts from the floor, including a 4-for-8 performance from downtown. Allen committed just one turnover while leading the team in playing time.
The Celtics were clearly a better basketball team while Allen was on the floor tonight. They outscored Cleveland by eight points during Allen’s 35:12 of playing time, which trailed only Mickael Pietrus’ plus-14 in the team’s plus/minus category. He was an integral part of this victory, and it was a breath of fresh air to see him firing on all cylinders from start to finish.
Box Score Nuggets
- Mickael Pietrus recorded a game-high plus-14 in the plus/minus category.
- Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 12 points.
- Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 24 points.
- Rajon Rondo went scoreless but did dish out a game-high 11 assists.
- Boston committed 18 turnovers, led by six from Pierce and five from Rondo.
- Ray Allen led the C's with 22 points.
- Boston assisted on 27 of its 33 made field goals.
- Cleveland shot just 39.7 percent from the field.
- Two bench players, Chris Wilcox (11 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (10 boards) led their respective teams in rebounding.
- Each of Boston's five starters logged between 32:29 and 35:12 of playing time.
- Four of the game's 10 starters scored eight points or less.
- Thompson, who scored 13 points to go along with his 10 boards, recorded the game's only double-double.
- Mickael Pietrus attempted six 2-point field goals, which fell just two short of his season high.
- The Celtics led by as many as 16 points.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the importance of tonight's victory, no matter how it arrived: "Well, it was a win. I mean, that’s all it was for us. We’ll take the win. We needed the win. It’s a good way to end a losing streak and (start) off the second half of the season, with a win."