UPDATED - Sorry, guys. I thought this updated before making the late-night trek from Pittsburgh. Included are post game comments and audio.
PITTSBURGH – Did you know that the city of Pittsburgh was built on a series of winding, rolling hills? That’s great if you’re into that type of stuff, but when you’re trying to find a college campus where two NBA teams are playing in a college arena, it’s not exactly a treat.
A fellow colleague in the media chided me prior to this wonderful two-hour drive to this scenic city for relying on my GPS. Yes, I got the last laugh because although getting here was still an experience, I beat him by a significant amount of time? The point? There is none.
I’ve just learned rather quickly that when it comes to the preseason in the NBA, at least with games, there’s not a lot of new stuff to talk about, especially when you’re playing the same team from three days prior.
Game: Boston Celtics (2-1) vs. Cavaliers (0-2)
Broadcast: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Anderson Varejao (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Wally Szczerbiak (G); Mo Williams (G). Celtics: Paul Pierce (F);Kevin Garnett (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G)
Streaking: Cavaliers have lost two consecutive exhibition games (Repeat after me: big deal).
What to watch: LeBron James pronounced himself ready to go the other day after practice. My guess is he’ll see about the same amount of time from the other day (13.5 minutes), enough to thrill the crowd then that will be it.
As for the rest of the team, pay close attention to rookies J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson – especially the latter. Coach Mike Brown singled Jackson out for his hustled and offered some serious high praise the other day. With Sasha Pavlovic nursing a sprained ankle Wally Szczerbiak will start again at the two guard spot. While Brown liked his offensive performance against the Celtics last Friday night, he wasn’t too enamored of his defense. Look for him to try to step it up.
From the coach’s office:
Mike Brown on Ben Wallace’s situation: I’m not too good at forecasting stuff in the future. We have other guys that we feel can step in, but we miss his presence…What’s great is the young guys (Hickson and Jackson) will get some time tonight. We’ve got to try to figure out who can step in in his place and play some productive minutes while he’s not here.
Is he concerned about the absence? : Right now I’m not going to sit back and bang my head up against the wall or anything like that; you just have to coach and go to the next play.
From the locker room:
LeBron James on Bill Walker: He plays with a chip on his shoulder. We’ve seen that through the pre-season already. He’s a good kid, I guess,’’ he said with a smile. Yeah, I ain’t forgot it.
Post game analysis
I’ll be writing the same thing until the preseason is over – it’s only practice. But looking at the time the regulars played in the first half gives you some idea that Mike Brown has been heard with respect to defense. In the second quarter the Cavs held the Celtics to 17 total points.
After that? It got just plain sloppy as the teams committed a combined 36 turnovers (20 for the Cavs and 16 for Boston) and went to the line 85 times combined (45 for Boston and 40 for the Cavaliers).
Some good did come from it, however, as rookies J.J. Hickson and Darnell Jackson looked lively on both ends of the floor. In Hickson you can see an impressive combination of power and athleticism. The first-round draft pick from North Carolina State, when he has the opportunity, moves to the basket with power and showed a nice touch with a medium-range jump shot. He scored 8 points and pulled down 6 rebounds.
As for Jackson, he is as exactly as he’s said numerous times during training camp. He brings energy to the floor. He impressed by contesting shots, willing giving his body up for the ball and showed that he can hit an open jumper.
With Big Ben Wallace back in Cleveland nursing a tight back, these two made the most of their opportunities on the court.
Post game quotables:
From Darnell Jackson: "I think I did pretty good. It was all right. It’s still a learning experience for me…It’s just going to take time and I’m going to learn it,’’ forward Darnell Jackson said. ‘And just whatever the coaches have me do I’m going to go in there and watch tape and just try to fix my mistakes.
Mike Brown on his rookies: dj-mb-boston-10-14 ‘’It’s early, but did they take a step forward tonight? Yes,’’ he said. ‘’Can they take a step backward? Yes, they can take many backward, but tonight I thought they took a couple of steps forward.’’