The Boston Celtics, minus Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Glen Davis handily defeated conference arch rival, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-82 in their final preseason game. They also open the real season against them on October 27th.
They played this game in Columbus, Ohio so the Cavs can claim that it wasn’t really a home game. But they can’t claim that they didn’t try. Still, the less-than-full-strength Celtics beat them rather easily, even with Paul Pierce, playing just 13 minutes and scoring 11 points.
Doc Rivers had earlier suggested that he wouldn’t play the starters in this game. Whether it was a Bill Belichickian move or not, I wouldn’t know, but he did start Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Paul Pierce. According to the Yahoo recap, Pierce refused to sit the game out completely, though he played short minutes.
Here is Greg Payne’s account of Pierce in action from Celticsblog.com…
“So, while an unspoken tension bubbled between the two squads, an equally powerful rigidity enveloped Pierce and James throughout the entire first quarter. Paul was clearly locked in on Wednesday, as evidenced by the meticulous scowl that he wore on his face throughout the period. There were no smiles or pre-game laughs or that sense of looseness that comes with preseason. This was all business.”
In an interesting move, Doc started Marquis Daniels with Rajon Rondo, and it worked pretty well as Daniels scored 17 points on 7 for 10 shooting to go with 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Eddie House led the team in scoring with 21 points in 22 minutes on 8 of 14 shooting off the bench.
Centers of Attention
Kendrick Perkins added 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in his drive for time as ‘point center’.
In what might be a more significant than it appears, Zydrunas Ilguaskas played 22 minutes but the Cavs were only outscored by two during that time. Shaquille O’Neal played 20 minutes, scoring 16 points, but the Cavs were outscored by 11 during that time.
The big concern for adding the big guy is chemistry. There is some question whether LeBron and Shaq can both operate effectively as teammates in the low post together. Time will tell.
Pierce out dueled his famous 7th game nemesis from two years ago and Payne of Celticsblog has that…
By the end of the quarter, Pierce had taken six shots and James had taken six shots. Pierce made four of his, while LeBron hit just two. Pierce finished with 11 points and James ended the frame with seven (he knocked down three free throws as well). While the numbers don’t mean all that much, that sense of wanting to show up the other (in preseason nonetheless) surely does.
Rajon Rondo had 7 assists, 9 points, no rebounds, and 3 steals in 26 minutes. Rasheed Wallace started, played 30 minutes and had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal and zero turnovers.
Lester Hudson got sizable burn, playing 21 plus minutes, scoring 8 points on 3 of 5 shooting. In addition to his shoving match with Mo Williams, Shelden Williams played 21 plus minutes scoring 7 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
J. R. Giddens played 20 scoreless minutes (0-3) in his new role as a defensive factor off the bench.
LeBron James scored 18 points (6 of 15 shooting) in 29 minutes to lead the Cavs.
While rumors persist that Doc Rivers wants to keep Michael Sweetney around and hopes that he rounds into game shape by mid season, Sweetney was sent home with the flu earlier in the week.
So the Celtics send an early message to a top rival. We are ready. Let the (real) games begin.