Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 93, Cavaliers 90
Celtics 93, Cavaliers 90
It was 70s night tonight at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and for a while it seemed as if the Celtics would unleash Gino to join in on the fun.
Boston led the Cavaliers by as many as 22 points in the second half and by 18 in the fourth quarter. It looked like the Celtics were well on their way to a blowout victory on the road, but then it happened again: the Cavaliers staged a dramatic comeback.
We were less than 48 hours removed from Cleveland’s incredible comeback on Sunday night that culminated with a Kyrie Irving layup that gave the Cavs an 88-87 victory in TD Garden. Cleveland erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit in that one, and it looked like it was going to happen again tonight.
At least until the Big Ticket decided to step up and deliver the biggest basket of the game.
Boston’s lead was cut all the way down to two points when Irving cut through traffic and put home an impressive driving layup off the glass with 1:18 remaining. At that point, the following was a reality for the Celtics: Make clutch plays down the stretch or you’re going to fly home with a really, really bad taste in your mouth.
Doc Rivers called for a timeout immediately following Irving’s basket with the intention of avoiding that bad taste. Rivers’ solution to Boston’s stagnant offense came in the form of Kevin Garnett, whose number was called on the Celtics’ next possession.
The C’s will typically go into some form of a pick-and-roll in this situation, but tonight Rivers opted to lob the ball into Garnett on the block and let him go to work. KG posted up on Anderson Varejao and was given the isolation after Cleveland’s attempt at a quick double-team fell apart. Garnett capitalized on that mistake by making a move into the paint, fading away and tossing a shot up over the outstretched arm of Varejao.
The shot hit the rim, bounced up into the air and then came back down to bounce on the rim again and again. Finally, after enough bounces to leave both teams hanging on their last breath, the ball fell through the hoop with 1:04 left on the clock.
Boston didn’t want that basket; it needed that basket. That bucket by Garnett is the reason why the C’s escaped another fourth-quarter collapse at the hands of the Cavaliers and were able to fly back home on a high note.
It was no Gino performance in Cleveland, but every win counts as a single tally no matter how it’s achieved. Boston held on tonight, and that means it has now tallied six of those Ws in its last eight games.
Key Box Score Line
Paul Pierce had another great game for the Celtics, but no one on the court tonight was in the same stratosphere as Anderson Varejao. Varejao has been a thorn in Boston’s side for several years because of his relentless hustle, and that pesky play shined bright tonight.
The big man from Brazil logged the first 20-point, 20-rebound game by a Boston opponent this season, and he did it in clean fashion by notching those numbers right on the dot. His 20 points came via a 10-of-17 shooting performance from the field, including Cleveland’s first eight points of the night. Varejao was able to notch 20 rebounds, which was only eight less than the entire Celtics team, by hustling at both ends of the court. He grabbed 10 offensive boards and 10 defensive boards.
If your name isn’t Dwight Howard, 20-20 games are few and far between. It is an incredible feat anytime someone puts up a performance like this, even if it’s against Boston. You have to tip the cap to Varejao tonight, because his hustle, energy and production were all off the charts.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving again led these teams in scoring with 21 points.
- Boston shot 50.7 percent from the field.
- Five Celtics scored in double-figures, with two notching 12 points, two notching 13 points and one notching 20.
- Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points.
- The Celtics led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
- Brandon Bass (six rebounds) and Mickael Pietrus (five rebounds) both grabbed more boards than any of Boston's starters.
- The Celtics assisted on 25 of their 37 made field goals.
- Anderson Varejao had a dominant game with 20 points and 20 rebounds.
- Varejao's 20 rebounds were just eight short of Boston's total rebounding number.
- Bass dropped in 13 points off the bench for the C's.
- Ramon Sessions dished out a game-high 10 assists off the bench for Cleveland.
- Ray Allen wasn't far behind with eight dimes of his own to lead Boston.
- Varejao's 20 rebounds were split between the offensive and defensive ends. He grabbed 10 at each end.
- Irving shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
- The assist totals for Cleveland's five starters were six, four, three, two and one.
- Alonzo Gee grabbed a game-high four steals.
- After allowing the Cavs to score 54 points in the paint on Sunday, Boston limited Cleveland to just 34 tonight.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on Anderson Varejao: "Varejao’s energy is just amazing. It’s amazing to watch him run around relentlessly, and pursue (loose) balls…Varejao’s always an All-Star as far as I’m concerned. I think they should keep a spot for a role player. That’s what he does, he plays his role…He had 20 points and they didn’t run one (offensive) set for him."