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The Cleveland Cavaliers were expected to be a complete afterthought in the NBA this season after they lost their star, LeBron James, to the Miami Heat this summer. However, on Wednesday night, they proved that they shouldn’t be forgotten just yet and beat the Celtics 95-87.
The Celtics led after every quarter until the end of this game when the Cavaliers were able to put on impressive run late in the fourth, capped by a controversial three-pointer made by Anthony Parker. The shot by Parker was apparently made with just one very long second left on the shot clock that allowed Parker to catch the ball put it back down on the ground, bring it back up, and still shoot the ball before the time ran out. Maybe the Cavs should do an employee assessment of their clock guy.
The Celtics had trouble meshing their starters and bench players together and still seem to be searching for their roles a bit in the early going of the season. This came after the team looked like a much more put-together team than the Miami Heat just one night ago.
Rajon Rondo had a good game offensively with 18 points and 9 assists. As for the rest of the starting five, only Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were able to reach double figures in scoring with 13 and 12 points respectively. Allen was also 0-5 from beyond the three point line. Kevin Garnett had a decent night with 9 points, but was spectacular on the boards in grabbing 15 rebounds.
The Celtics bench struggled for much of the game. Only Glen Davis performed well, as he seems to be a very early candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Davis had 14 points and was very impressive under the basket. He even showed some range by hitting what was nearly a buzzer-beating three pointer at the end of the first quarter, but it was waived off by the referees who said his fingertips were still on the ball as time expired.
On the other hand, Jermaine O’Neal was tough to watch. O’Neal is still very much trying to find his role on this team after missing most of the pre-season with a hamstring injury. O’Neal only had two points, two rebounds, and fouled out of the game after a mere 12 minutes of playing time. Don’t panic with O’Neal just yet; it’s only the second game of the season and he will find his place on the team eventually.
The Cavaliers were out to prove themselves, and they did just that. Their first game without King James on the team allowed them to run the floor “by committee” as Anthony Parker said in an interview after the game. Six different Cavalier players found themselves scoring in double figures, led by J.J. Hickson. Hickson had 21 points and set the tone early for the LeBron-less Cavs. Ramon Sessions started tonight in place of the injured Mo Williams and added 14 points of his own while both Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker had 10 apiece. Anderson Varejao also had a good game with 8 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cavalier bench, now featuring Antawn Jamison, was impressive as well. Daniel Gibson scored 16 points off the bench (all in the second half), and hit several key free throws that helped seal the win for Cleveland. Ryan Hollins also had 10 points off the bench.
So what does this game mean? In the long run, probably not very much for the Celtics. The Cavaliers will most likely not be contending for a playoff spot in the East this season, but they will not be the worst team in the league either. This was their home opener and they wanted so badly to prove after this summer that they could win without LeBron James. The Celtics were playing their second game in a back to back, and still have work and adjustments to make. It’s only the second game of the season and there’s still a long way to go. No need to panic yet.
Tags: Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Daniel Gibson, Glen Davis, J.J. Hickson, Jamario Moon, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ramon Sessions, Ray Allen, Ryan Hollins