Celtics Visit LeBron and the Cavaliers
Posted Nov 11 2006 10:01AM
The Cleveland Cavaliers have handled the good teams so far this season. It's been a different story against the weaker ones.
The Cavaliers look to avoid playing down to another lesser opponent Saturday when they host the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cleveland is 3-0 against Washington, San Antonio and Chicago - all playoff teams from 2005-06. Its two losses are to Charlotte and improving Atlanta, teams that combined for a 52-112 record last season.
Boston (1-4), which missed the playoffs in 2005-06 and won its first game of the season on Wednesday, has lost five in a row to Cleveland. The Cavaliers, though, realize they can't afford to take an opponent lightly if they want to be considered among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
``We have to do that,'' James said. ``It's tough but we have to figure out how to do that. We've beat three playoff teams and lost to two non-playoff teams. We have to figure it out and we will.''
One night after being criticized for leaving his team's bench to head toward the locker room in the final seconds of Cleveland's 104-95 overtime loss to Atlanta, James had 19 points and 12 assists in an impressive 113-94 win Wednesday over Chicago to snap a two-game losing streak.
Drew Gooden, who is averaging 17.0 points and 11.8 rebounds, had 20 points and nine rebounds against the Bulls. Cleveland, the league's top rebounding team at 47.8 per game, amassed a 47-30 advantage over Chicago.
The Cavaliers' reserves shot 21-of-30 from the field, led by Sasha Pavlovic's 16 points.
``We played well as a team,'' James said. ``We didn't just get stagnant as much as we did in the past. We were able to push the ball up and made things happen from there. We moved around, set screens and made open shots.''
James has played well against Boston, averaging 38.3 points in three games last season and 28.8 points in 10 games lifetime. He had a triple-double - 43 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists - in a 113-109 double-overtime win Feb. 15 over the Celtics.
Boston will try to avoid losing five of its first six games for the first time since the 1997-98 season. The Celtics couldn't capitalize on their 110-108 overtime win Wednesday over Charlotte, losing 110-107 to Utah at home on Friday despite 30 points from Paul Pierce.
The Celtics, who rank near the bottom of the NBA in scoring defense at 106.2 points per game, were unable to overcome a first-half run by the Jazz that erased an early seven-point lead.
``This just goes to show you that when you don't play the defense that you need to play, you dig yourself a hole,'' Pierce said. ``You put so much pressure on our offense when you don't get any stops. It's almost a must that we come down and score every time.''
Boston may be without point guard Sebastian Telfair, who left Friday's game in the first quarter due to shortness of breath. The Celtics already are without forward Al Jefferson, who had his appendix removed Wednesday. Jefferson averaged 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in three games this season.
Boston has lost three straight at home to Cleveland and seven of the last eight overall between the teams. The Celtics have not defeated the Cavaliers since a 114-107 overtime road win Dec. 18, 2004.
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