Cavs 108, Celtics 88
There was disbelief among some of those on press row (include me) and even some mocking (check Twitter feeds) of the Cavs' defense in the first quarter against the Celtics. What wasn't there to make fun of?
Sixteen points in the paint in the first five minutes and change? Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo having his way with the Cavs defense? I'd not be surprised if more than a few flat panel televisions got busted Thursday night.
But it was the tale of two halves as the Cavs turned things around in the second half, holding the Celtics to just 9-of-41 shooting in the final two quarters to embarrass Boston in a game that they should have won handily.
The Cavs lost Shaquille O'Neal in the second quarter and were forced to go with a quicker, more athletic - albeit smaller - lineup. The end result was team that created organized chaos for the Boston.
After the way they started, no one can do anything but marvel at how they finished. They defensive intensity that had been lacking for most of the last seven or so games.
Game: Cavs (45-14) at Boston Celtics (36-20)
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Antawn Jamison (F); Shaquille O'Neal (C); Anthony Parker (G); Mo Williams (G).
Celtics: Marquis Daniels (F); Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C) Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Cavs: Sebastian Telfair - groing (OUT). Celtics: Paul Pierce.
Officials: Scott Foster, David Jones and Sean Wright.
Big news tonight is that Paul Pierce won't play. Pierce is listed as being out indefinitely with a thumb injury. That puts Ray Allen into the starting lineup. Allen averages 19.7 points per game against the Cavs. But they will miss Pierce's 21.2 points per game against the Cavs and no one on the Celtics got up for LeBron James like Pierce.
The wild card tonight is going to be Garnett. Is he healthy? His play has been more consistent of late, averaging double figures the past five games. And the Celtics have won seven of their last 10. It will be interesting to see how Antawn Jamison matches up with Garnett on the defensive side of the court. Defense hasn't been his strong suit throughout his career.
Lastly, the Cavs need point guard Mo Williams back in form. He's been shaking off the rust. In the process his shot has been flat and he hasn't been close to accurate from the floor. He will also have his hands full guarding Rajon Rondo, who has only gotten better as the season has gone on.