Pregame Starting lineup
Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Derrick Collins, Mark Lindsay
--So the Celtics are pretty good, but what has been surprising his how well they have played on defense so far. A big part of it has been James Posey, who I expect to guard LeBron a bunch tonight. I also expect him to be physical. --The Big Three are one thing, but if the Cavs have any chance they have to hold the others down. In the preseason game in Boston, the Cavs let Perkins get wide open dunks and Eddie House came off the bench and nailed a bunch of shots. Also, Rondo just went down the lane whenever he wanted. If that happens again tonight, it will be another blowout. --The Cavs are running hot on offense right now, especially with the 3-point shot. Let's see how engaged they get into running plays or whether they start settling. That will be key. --Celtics will play small at times with Pierce or Brian Scalabrine or even Posey playing the 4. That means Ira Newble will get time tonight.
Halftime -- Celtics 49, Cavs 46 --This game is going about how you'd expect, Cavs had a nice start but the Celtics defense has worn them down and broken their flow. The Cavs had seven assists on their first nine baskets and then just two the rest of the half. Boston forced them into contested jumpers by denying drives and pushing out the posts. They also only had three fastbreak points in the half because they messed up like four or five fastbreak chances, they need those easy points. --Ray Allen is active and the Cavs are paying so much attention to Garnett and Pierce that he's hurting them. Hence the danger of the Big 3. Bigger issue, Perkins keep getting open on the backside and he's got nine points. Just better concentration is needed to deal with that. They have done an OK job keeping Rondo out of the lane. --It appears the Cavs will need a big scoring half from LeBron to win this game. Boston plays good defense and he's often just going to have to create in the halfcourt. --Devin Brown's technical was a little bizarre. He tried to help Ray Allen up and got shoved aside by Rondo and was hit with it because of his reaction. Not normal for a mild mannered guy like Devin. --Cavs are in a bit of foul trouble, Drew Gooden has 3. Expect Kevin Garnett to force the issue early in the half.
Postgame -- Cavs 109, Celtics 104, OT Stars LeBron James, 38 points, 13 assists Drew Gooden, 24 points, 13 rebounds Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 15 points, 14 rebounds Ray Allen, 29 points, seven rebounds
--Z, Drew and LeBron: 77 points, 31 rebounds, 18 assists, seven blocks. Garnett, Allen, Pierce: 64 points, 18 rebounds, 15 assists, six blocks. I wrote about this two weeks ago, the production the Cavs are getting out of their frontcourt is off the charts. Who knows if it will last, they are all logging heavy minutes. --The Cavs winning this game was pivotal and not just because it was the Celtics. This game was played at a slower pace and much of the time was a defense-based game. The Cavs have been winning by running recently. They got beat on the backside paying too much attention to the Big 3 at times, but overall they played excellent defense. Their rotations were very strong and Pierce and Garnett didn't have much room to operate. --Gooden's focus tonight was remarkable, he was locked in for much of the game. Beyond hitting all those jumpers, this was the most noteworthy thing of the night. Drew was even doing some trash talking to Garnett and the Celtics bench. --The key play in the game was LeBron missing the jumper at the end of regulation. Now, that may not be a great shot, but he was hitting his jumpers all night and he was talking trash with Pierce the entire second half and he wanted to bury one in his face. Remember these guys have a history. Anyway, missing that shot focused him and he immediately went to the basket to start overtime. It later earned him space to hit a big 3-pointer with 1:50 left that turned the tide. He had 11 points in overtime. --Overall, I thought the Celtics played great defense on the Cavs, who didn't have great spacing and ball movement tonight. Still, they had 24 assists on 38 baskets, which would've been tremendous last season. The offense, indeed, is maturing. --Interesting that Allen, who had 29 points but needed 25 shots to get there while James had 38 points on 25 shots, missed those free throws late in regulation. I felt rookie ref Mark Lindsay blew that call because Allen dribbled the ball off his leg. As Rasheed Wallace would love to say in that spot..."Ball don't lie." --Sasha Pavlovic is showing some proof that he's turning the corner. Not just because his shot is falling now, but because he's got legs after the third quarter. Daniel Gibson was just 3-of-11 tonight and the bench gave just eight points so Sasha's 16 were needed. --Between them Z and Drew now have 17 double-doubles on the season after both got them tonight.
Quotes: LeBron: "We know how to win ballgames, no matter if we are shorthanded or not. No matter what the score is or how much time is on the clock." Gooden: "There was a lot of trash talking out there, but it is fun. I like that type of atmosphere." Doc Rivers: "Give Cleveland all the credit, they played hard the entire game. But we thought we had our chances before overtime."