Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers  Friday, Dec 13, 2002  7:30pm
You've got to like a team featuring a player named "Smush".  Cleveland has spunk.  I hate spunk. :>)  But the Cavs came in following the studied ineptitude of the Celtics/Suns game.

Sometimes, timing stinks.

Prior to the game, Pierce said he feels good after dental work, and he's ready to go.
 

First Quarter:

Battie announced his return to the lineup by starting in early on the boards with a nice defensive rebound.

Pierce established from the start he was not afraid to go to the hoop by scoring two.

The Celtics showed some really good passing and going to the hoop, as when Walker hit a kicked-back three.  But most of the C's offensive damage was being done inside.  Boston did have solid defensive rebound work, though they seemed to have so much get up and go, that they actually needed to calm down a little.

After Pierce was fouled en route to the hoop--eerily reminiscent of the last game--Tommy Heinsohn said, "If Pierce goes down, someone's going with him".  Pierce went to shoot two free throws, making both.

Cleveland pushed their offense to compensate for their porous defense.

Tony Delk hit a nice pull up jumper.  Then on the next play, Walker had a steal, then took his man to the hoop for a quick two.  Tony Battie and Eric Williams also collaborated for one of several defensive rebounds.

Pierce showed he was in the mood to show people why other teams wanted him taken down as he hit a nice bank off the glass after spinning to hoop, then scored again off a Walker feed.  A timeout was called with 7:43 left and a 14-6 Boston lead.

The Cleveland kids can jump high for those shots.  The "Centah" was very quite early on, despite the nice C's lead on good offensive work.

Then one of the officials took his life into his hands calling a cheap foul against Pierce.  Boston, at this point was shooting 8-10  while Cleveland was 7-15 with 5:41 to go.  Then there was a nice feed from Pierce to Battie for hoop slam.  By this time, the Celtics held a 14-8 lead in paint points, and an overall lead of 25-17 with 4:30 to go.

Cleveland defense just couldn't stop Boston--especially Pierce, who was 5-6; and Walker.   Jim O'Brien gave some of his starters an unexpected rest by bringing in some of the bench with 3:40 to go.  The refs showed they hadn't really learned their lesson when Vinnie was called for travelling when he was tied up with ball.  The Celtics defense started to look a little spotty, and I hoped it would tighten up.  The Cavs finally played some defense on Pierce and got hit with a  goaltending call for their trouble.  :>)

Eric Williams made a nice rebound off missed Cav free throw--something that teams too often fail to do.  Baker got nice a rebound, and was running hard at both ends  Waltah! hit a three from the corner, then was whistled for foul after a steal attempt at the other end.  At this point the Celtics were on a 16-2 run.

Miracle Milt came back to town and quickly drew the foul underneath on Waltah!--his third.  The C's became noticeably a little disorganized on defensive rebounding--they just needed to smooth out their harried efforts.  But the Celtics offense was fine as Boston was 76% vs. 41% for the Cavs.

Shammond gave the C's a 40 point quarter with one of his catch and shoot threes.  But Clevelend  started going to line a lot near end of the quarter--the Celtics shouldn't be fouling like that so early in game, but Cleveland mitigated the problem by missing many of their attempts at the line.

The Celtics ended the first quarter with their 2nd highest point total for an opening quarter as they led it 40-23.

Boston shot 74% in the quarter overall, Cleveland 41%.
 

Second Quarter:

Ricky Davis came back in and started hitting those high jumpers again.  He was on his way to a monster night at the rate he was going.  But as in the last part of the previous quarter, the C's were getting called for fouls--ok, Vin Baker was too, sending Battie back into the game.

Shammond made a very nice pass out to Walker for a three.  But again, they need to tighten defense.  Boston should play them tougher than that.  Then Delk hit a three after recovering a bad pass in the corner.

The lack of communication was exampled when four C's went in on an offensive on rebound and lost ball out.  The score was now 50-33 with 8:56 left in the half.  the Celtics' record for points in a half is 91.  They looked on a pace to meet--or beat--it, as Walker took the pumpkin on a fast break and got fouled on the made shot, but missed the free throw.

But Pierce kept up the pressure with another neat feed under hoop to Battie.  Miracle Milt Palacio was doing his thing to help keep Cleveland in the game, as he was obviously quite familiar with Boston's plays.  In fact, he was one of the few Cav players working on his defense.

But Boston showed signs of carelessness with and offensive set featuring bad passes ending up in a bad outside shot.  When that was combined with Cleveland making it's shots, that meant Cleveland was on it's way back into the game.

Tony Battie--the Bat-Man--is once again making a living under the hoop.

After a timeout, the C's defense was better, but still not what it needed to be.

After seeing Darius Miles hang off the rim with no "T" called, I expect the C's never to get called for that again.  Ok, I DO expect it--but it shouldn't happen.  Miles then stole the ball from Walker.  He was making things look easier.  The Cavs made a 10-2 run as the C's got careless on offense with the big lead.  Though Eric Williams was working hard under the hoop.

A timeout was called with 2:12 to go, adn Boston leading, 60-49.  But after that, Cleveland made the most of a 16-6 run to close the lead to nine points.

The C's came back on a nice move as Delk faked a corner three then went in and drew the defense.  then he passed back to Antoine as he moved in.  Walker made the three from the corner where Delk had been standing.  Antoine Walker had a 21 point half, and he wasn't finished yet.

The first half ended with the Good Guys leading 63-53.

HALFTIME

cookie break!

The C's started out the game on fire offensively and making the Cavs pay for their mistakes at every opportunity.  But the Good Guys then went and let their defense lag, as they cooled off at the offensive end a bit, and that let the Cavaliers back into a game they were all but blown out off at the end of the first quarter.

The Celtics, if they wanted to maintain lead and dignity, had to clamp down their defense and go back to working the pass to go inside.  there's still plenty of chances for shooting good threes, as the first quarter aptly demonstrated.

Boston had cooled off to 60% shooting for the half, while the Cavaliers were now at 47%.  The Good Guys also held a 34-28 edge in paint points.  The C's, through a combination of making most of their shots and Cleveland's inability to play defense, meant Boston only went to the line 5 times--making 2 of them.  (Aaugh!)  But Cleveland wasn't about to point fingers as they went 7-14 from the line.  The Cavs did have a lead in 2nd chance points 15-9 and their bench outscored the Boston bench 20-7.  But part of that was due to the fact that Pierce & Walker were hot.  They didn't really need the bench that much.

But as mentioned, the offense--apart from a stretch in the second quarter--was fine.  It was their defense that had gradually relaxed and let the Cavs back into it.
 

Third Quarter:

The C's opened the quarter by going to the hoop via Battie who was fouled and went to the line, hitting both (yay!)

Defense was good at first, until a rebound bounced off the head of a C's player and Cleveland got two out of it.  Then a miss by Boston led to a Ricky Davis fast break. Davis was getting and making lots of shots.

The crowd finally came alive by chanting for defence.  I'd begun to wonder where they were.

But the Cavs took advantage of a lack of Boston scoring to close the lead to 4 points, after what had once been a 19 point lead.  Walker seemed to hurt his wrist or forearm going in to the hoop on the next possession and he didn't get back on defense as the Cavs made it a 2 point game with 8:48 to go. A timeout called as the trainer went out to check on Walker.  After the timeout, Walker stayed in the game after apparently jamming his hand.

Eric Williams then picked up his 11th rebound, as Pierce missed again from outside--his inside shots seemed to go ok though.  Delk made an open three on a pass to make it 70-65 with 7:30 to go.

But again--Ricky went 10-12 on threes.  Her was hot, then the Cavs got a steal--but lost it themselves out of bounds thanks to Delk.  But Davis soon made another three to give him 30 points.

I got the impression on one play that Pierce seemed to be passing by hearing, not sight--I think his vision is not what it should be.  But then he seemed to belie that by hitting a three.  But Davis hit another three in the face of a double team.  Wow.  He was having a heck of a night.

Waltah! tried to take it hard to the hoop, but was fouled hard enough to make him miss and go for two at the line, hitting both (yay!!)  But on the other end, he got his 4th foul in 7 minutes.  Eep!

Shammond showed he's one of those people who gets better results on the catch and shoot.  The Celtics were now 10-20 on the three. Walker was 7-9 from the three to show Davis how the C's do things downtown and gave the C's a 10 point lead.  Then Pierce fed Baker inside for two on a fast pass through the Cav defense.  Very nice work.

The third quarter ended as the C's maintained their lead at 93-84.
 

Fourth quarter:

Vinine's play seemed to take a step back after the last game.  Or maybe I should have realized something was amiss in the last game, when he WASN'T being called...

Walker made a three after Waltah! rebounded a shot clock miss from outside.  It game him a new season high in scoring.  He'd also hit 8 three point shots.  The C's kept working on the Cavs and when a timeout was called with 8:44 to go, they led 99-89.  Pierce made a nifty under the hoop move after that to show his inside skills when he's not being taken down.

Wagner (who was not having a good night at all) got stripped by Waltah! then committed a foul.  He slapped the scorer's table in frustration.  So where was THAT technical foul???

The C's took the next two possessions walking the ball up reeeeeeaaallllly slow.  I wish they'd knock that off and start moving like they aren't afraid to create a breeze.

Battie had 22 points living under the hoop for a career high.

Pierce started having more trouble shooting again.  I think he might have needed to sit longer in this game.  I know he played well overall, but some of his shots were good looks that just seemed off.

Walker fed Battie underneath as his shirt mysteriously ended up outside his pants on one side after he started to the hoop--with no foul called. :>)

The crowd seemed to have little enthusiasm that I could see or hear.  The game seemed like everyone played--and watched--in a subdued manner.  I think maybe people were all a little tired.

With 3:42 left, a timeout had the C's lead at 107-93.  At this point all the C's really needed was a few minutes of solid defense and basically competent offense to lock this game up.  Delk got back to stop a break by knocking the pumpkin off a Cav foot out of bounds.

Sundov, Bremer, and Brown came in the game with 2:28 to go as Pierce and Battie got a well earned rest.  Basically everyone sat except Walker, who had to take free throws.  I questioned whether it might be better to run maybe another 45 seconds or so off the clock first.

Ricky Davis had 42 points in a losing cause as he put them over 100 for the night. J.R. Bremer took it to the hoop and was fouled with 1:36 to go, hitting one of two.  Cleveland called time with 1:36 to go and Boston holding a 109-100 lead.  I began to question seriously whether Coach O'Brien had pulled his starters just a little too soon.

After time, the crowd got more excited as the C's put Walker back in and he drew a foul.  He went to the line hitting one of two.  Sigh.  But Cleveland missed their next outside shot and Boston took the ball with under a minute to go and a 10 point lead.  Kedrick got inside for a putback hoop, then took a rebound from Milt and got it back for Boston.  J.R. Bremer launched a three to shut down the game with a  115-100 win for Boston.
 

This was a somewhat frustrating game to watch.  I realized that the Celtics weren't necessarily going to keep up the blistering pace they set in the opening quarter, but the Cavs should have been irrecoverably behind in double digits.  Had the Celtics played better defense, that would have happened.  I think that the C's were only playing at maybe 75-80 of capacity after going more like 90% as the game opened.  Even though the defense improved a bit after the half, it never came up to the standard it should have.

The Celtics outshot the Cavs, going 54% on 45-83 shooting, though as with other teams of late, the Cavs had more looks, going 40-90 at 44%.  I think that Jim O'Brien may have a few words to the guys about that.  Boston was almost unconscious at the arc, going 18-29 for 48%, while Cleveland was 6-19 for 36%.  But at the line, neither team was so hot, Boston going 11-21 at 52% as the Cavs went 14-25 for 56%.  Not such great numbers considering both teams were good from the field.  For a team that plays no defense, the Cavs tied up Boston with 45 rebounds each.  the C's need to do better against the Cavaliers.
 

HEROES AND ZEROS:

Heros:

Paul Pierce:  21 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks.  Not bad after someone imprints your face with a floor 48 hours previously.

Antoine Walker:  33 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals and went 8-13 from the arc.  I know some people commented he was going for a record number of threes--but he does that EVERY night...  :>)

Tony Battie:  The Bat-Man is back, with 24 points on 10-14 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  Against teams like Cleveland, he should just park his butt under the hoop and wait for the pass.

Eric Williams: 12 rebounds, 7 points and a steal.

Shammond Williams: 9 points on 50% shooting, 2 rebounds, 7 assists and a steal.

Tony Delk: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

Kedrick Brown: 2 points and 2 rebounds in 7 minutes is making the most of your time on the court.
 

Zeros:

Vin Baker:  tonight was a step backwards, sad to say--though he did have some nice plays under the hoop.  More is now expected of him.

Celtics free throw shooting:  11-21?  Bleah.  Mandatory free throw practice.  Tony Battie and Walter McCarty are excused as they made all theirs.  I will cut Pierce a little slack due to the injury, so he only has to stay for half as long.

The Good Guys now head to New York City to take on the Knicks tomorrow night.

And that's the view from the doghouse.
1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q Final
Cavaliers 23 30 31 16 100
Celtics 40 23 30 22 115