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Celtics Roll in Preseason Finale

Marquis Daniels and LeBron James (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

No KG, no Ray, no Big Baby — no problem. The Celtics dominated in their final preseason tune-up against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, coasting to a 96-82 win in front of a sellout crowd at Value City Arena on the campus of Ohio State University.

With newcomers Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Shelden Williams, and Lester Hudson playing major minutes against a Cavs squad that featured its regular rotation (less Delonte West) for the first three quarters, the outcome should have been in doubt. It never was.

Daniels, who came to Boston for less money and the opportunity to play for a contender, led the way again for the Green, with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

With his combination of length and quickness, Daniels proved to be a mismatch against everyone the Cavs threw at him: Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Mo Williams, and even Daniel Gibson. The question that plagued the Celtics second unit last year—Who’s going to score?—appears to have been answered. Daniels can create his own offense, inside and out, or kick it to some very capable outside shooters in Eddie House (game high 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting) and Wallace (10 points on 3 of 9).

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, looked to be suffering from the after effects of a flu virus that put seven of its players on the injured list just a week ago. The Celtics second unit outplayed Cleveland’s flat starting five all night. And the Cavs’ biggest question—can Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James share the ball?—remains unanswered. Shaq (16 points 5 rebounds) and LeBron (18 points) each looked impressive individually at times, but they never gelled, flu or no flu.

Sharing the rock was not a problem for the Celtics. Five of nine players that logged minutes scored in double digits, and the newcomer heavy rotation (Shelden Williams played a solid 20:47) moved the ball like a group that’s been playing together for 40 regular season games, let alone seven exhibitions.

Perhaps most impressive was what the Celtics didn’t do—turn the ball over. With only 8 giveaways on the game (Cavs had 16), Boston appears primed and ready to kick off the 2009-2010 regular season. They’ll do just that when they return to Ohio on October 27 to face the these same Cavs.

Notes

  • A noticeably slimmer Kendrick Perkins (13 points, 7 rebounds) dropped 20 pounds in the offseason, but he didn’t lose his short fuse. Perk earned a technical foul late in the first quarter for barking at an official.
  • Marquis Daniels can score in bunches. Great signing by Danny Ainge.
  • Eddie House is a happy man. With Daniels able to play the point when Rondo sits, and even rookie Lester Hudson demonstrating he can handle PG duties, House will be able to focus on what he does best—knocking down jumpers.
  • Paul Pierce, expected to ride the pine with Garnett and Allen in this one, successfully lobbied Doc Rivers for playing time before the game. Pierce started, played 13 minutes, dropped 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting, and played tough D on James.
  • Tommy Heinsohn is in midseason form. In lamenting a whistle against the Celts, he waxed poetic on a “terrible” call made by official Eddie F. Rush…on Robert Parrish over 20 years ago.
  • Shaq is 37 years old, but he looks like a spring chicken compared to 34-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The now-back up Cleveland center moves like he’s perpetually walking on ice.
  • Doc Rivers is going to drive his detractors nuts this season. This is a Mariana Trench-deep team, and Doc, known for playing everyone and ignoring standard rotation conventions, could very well run out his entire 12-man active roster on any given night.
  • By the same token, Doc is going to give opposing coaches fits. With this deep, diverse lineup, he can go big, he can go small, he can push the tempo, and he can slow things down.
  • With the win, the Celtics finished the preseason with a 6-2 record. The Green’s biggest victory, despite some bumps and bruises, was getting through the exhibition games without any significant injuries.
  • Prediction: this focused, veteran team—playing in the soft Atlantic Division—will make a run at Chicago’s record 72-win season.

About Sharkey

I was 11 years old when the ball scooted through Buckner's wickets, a moment that is laser-etched in my mind: In my living room, on the floor in front of the TV, ready to burst as the Sox needed just one more out, one more strike, to become World Series champs. Mets players sat with slumped shoulders and dejected looks in the dugout. Even the scoreboard operator recognized the game, and the series, was over, posting on the jumbotron: Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Series Champions. "They did it!" I said, unable to contain myself. "The Sox won it all!" My father, sitting behind me on the couch with a furrowed brow, knew better. "It's not over yet." And so it was. Having watched the Sox, Celts, and Pats for the past three decades, I truly feel like I've seen it all. I hope to bring that type of perspective as I write about the three teams I love.

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Discussion

2 comments for “Celtics Roll in Preseason Finale”

  1. Marquis Daniels looks impressive indeed. Get him anywhere near the basket and he seems to be able to score at will. Definitely a great addition to the team.

    However, I’m a bit worried about Rasheed. Am I imagining it, or is he shooting virtually nothing but 3 point shots? I appreciate his skills out there, but he’s not exactly Eddie House, and that big body can surely do some damage on the low post. Or, maybe he’s too old to bump and grind inside. What do you think? Should we expect nothing from him but”bombs away”?

    Posted by Ken | October 22, 2009, 3:40 pm
  2. Bombs away! Sheed will take plenty of threes, he’s averaged over 300 3PA the last three seasons. He’s never been a classic post player. Much like KG, he’s more of a straight up jump shooter. So if KG frustrates you, Sheed will drive you batty. If he plays as consistently in Boston as he did the past three years in Detroit, expect Sheed to take roughly 10 shots a game, 4 of those from behind the arc.

    Posted by Sharkey | October 22, 2009, 7:01 pm

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