Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cavs-Celtics Running Diary

Here is my belated running diary on last night's Cavs-Celtics game, which will be completed with the help of my Tivo. It is late, but I love reading running diaries even after games I watched so this is for those who cannot get enough of the game or who missed it. The Cavs and Celtics are two of the 3, maybe 4, elite teams in the NBA so this is a huge game for a regular season game. The Cavs really have a chance tonight on national television to make a statement about the pecking order in the NBA. Without further ado, it is time to press play on my Tivo:

First Quarter

12:00 - No surprises in the starting lineups. Starting for the Cavs are Mo Williams, Delonte West, Lebron James, Ben Wallace, and Anderson Varejao. Starting for the Celtics are Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kendrick Perkins, and Kevin Garnett.

12:00 - I thought a throwback jerseys were throwbacks to jerseys that used to be worn or are at least close to it. Did the Cavs ever wear anything like that?

11:50 - Ben Wallace with a drive and score to the basket off a pick and roll. Never thought the game would start like that. This can only be a good sign.

11:05 - Anderson Varejao with a nice double pump layup off a Lebron James assist. Andy simultaneously being in shape this and learning to play under control this year has been huge, especially now that Z is hurt. I no longer cringe when he drives, spins, and attempts a layup because he no longer does it wildly.

10:20 - Celtics with some nice ball movement between Pierce, Garnett and Perkins for a Perkins layup.

10:07 - Varejao hits a jumper, which is another improvement in his game. I think the assumption that he is gone after this year is starting to look like a premature one. I am starting to think that the Cavs should keep him even though he is going to want a lot of money. He is just too important to the Cavs.

9:42 - Same three players, same result for Boston. Another nice play.

9:29 - Lebron with a nice pass to Big Ben for an easy layup. The Celtics pay for overloading on Lebron.

8:40 - I think Mo Williams has now hit three tear drop shots to the start the game. Cavs are up 12-8.

7:45 - Pierce to Garnett to Perkins again. Nice wrap around pass by Garnett. This is a battle between low-scoring big men right now in the form of Perkins, Wallace, and Varejao (although you could say that title no longer applies to Andy).

7:15 - Big Ben gets an offensive board, passes to a cutting Varejao, and Varejao is fouled on the layup attempt. Andy makes the two free throws, and the score is Cavs 14, Celtics 10. The battle of low scoring big men continues.

6:47 - Ben Wallace with the steal, which leads to Lebron getting fouled on the way to the hoop. I am not sure that Garnett fouled Lebron although he might have hit him on the face. Cavs are up
16-10 after Lebron makes the two free throws. Garnett is T'ed up for arguing. Score: 17-10.

6:25 - Garnett misses another shot. He has started cold.

6:04 - Delonte West with a nice short jumper over Garnett. The Cavs have started hot tonight.

5:03 - Cavs are forced to call a timeout as Lebron looks like he was hit in the eye on the last play. No call was made. Garnett gets his first points on the following play on a dunk with Lebron still holding his head at the other end of the floor.

4:44 - Lebron takes on Paul Pierce, gets buy him, and gets fouled as he makes a layup over Garnett. Cavs 22 Celtic 14.

3:50 - Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson checks in for Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao.

3:17 - Kendrick Perkins is fouled as he attempts another close-in shot. He has been scored over half of Boston's points thus far, surprisingly enough. He has nine points after he splits the free throws. Cavs 22 Celts 17.

2:54 - Lebron drives and kicks to Wally who knocks down a 3. Wally apparently snuck into the game without me noticing. Cavs 25 Celts 17

2:20 - Lebron with another assist as J.J. Hickson slams the ball home. Lebron has really been making the Celtics pay for overloading on him, and the big men (Wallace, Andy, and Hickson) have been in the right spots for the scores.

1:04 - James is rewarding for all his sharing as Gibson now hits a cutting Lebron for a big slam. Cavs 31 Celts 21

0:47 - Ray Allen misses a three as the Celtics are not shooting well.

0:35 - Pierce gets a fast break dunk after Rondo stripped Lebron. Cavs 31 Celts 23.

0:14 - Lebron drives for a nice layup on the ensuing play.

0:00 Lebron James comes out of nowhere to reject Perkin's short shot attempt at the buzzer. The crowd is buzzing as the quarter ends. Hickson also altered Rondo's shot on the same play. He has gotten into good position to affect shots a couple of times this game, which is good to see from the rookie. Cavs 33 Celts 23 after a strong first quarter from the Cavs. The Cavs are making shots, playing tough defense, and are really attacking the basket right now.

Second Quarter

12:00 - On the floor to start the quarter for the Cavs are J.J. Hickson, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson, Mo Williams, and Wally. For the Celtics, Leon Powe, Eddie House, Ray Allen, Gabe Pruitt, and Glen Davis.

11:30 - Hickson misses a dunk, but once again gets in the right position on offense for the Cavs. He is playing the way he needs to thus far for the Cavs. He is working hard on defense and getting into positions to score by cutting to the basket at the right time.

10:24 - Powe makes a tough shot over Varejao who was playing some tight defense on him.

9:30 - Hickson is fouled on short jumper off a decent post move. I wondered how J.J. would respond when playing extended minutes with Z hurt against a good opponent. So far so good. Cavs 34 Celtics 27 after the free throws.

9:01 - Not much to say on the Celtics thus far as Ray Allen misses another shot. None of their stars are lighting it up. They are still in the game though.

8:24 - Leon Powe scores off a cut and a nice feed. He is a really nice player. He is Boston's version of Andy.

7:32 - Mo Williams has hit two straight baskets to give him 9 points. Cavs have Delonte, Gibson, Williams, Hickson, and Varejao on the floor. Cavs 38 Celts 31.

6:23 - Cavs with some great hustle to knock the ball away from Powe and get the loose ball. Boobie knocks down a 3. The Celtics call a timeout. The Cavs are hot tonight. They are in total control right now of this game. Lebron is back in when the game restarts.

5:05 - The Celtics miss 3 shots (House, Davis and Pierce) on one possession as the Cavs defense is getting hands in people's faces and the Celtics are not hitting their shots.

4:20 - Ben Wallace steals the ball and leads a fast break. He does not do a bad job although Lebron misses the shot, but let's never see that again.

3;37 - Lebron hits a 3. Not much scoring in this quarter. Cavs 44 Celtics 33. It was 33-23 after the first quarter.

3:18 - Ben Wallace alters Pierce's shot on a miss. Ben Wallace has been great.

2:27 - Allen misses another shot on a 3 point attempt. I am not sure he has scored. Garnett miss a short jumper too.

1:52 - Delonte has a nice drive and kicks the ball to Varejao who makes the jumper.

1:43 - Rondo hits Garnett on a nice alley oop. Someone lost Garnett on that play.

1:14 - Lebron hits another 3. Cavs 49 Celtics 35.

0:00 - It's halftime. The Cavs are playing really well tonight. I am not sure anyone could say anything bad about their performance thus far. Their defense has hustled and contested shots. The Cavs big men have done a good job in the middle. The Cavs offense has been attacking the basket and not settling for jumpers. Most jumpers have been on drive and kicks. The ball movement has been good. Even if they were not making their shots, this is exactly how you want to see them play every game. Let's not get too carried away though. They are only up 9. If Pierce gets hot, things could change quickly. Cavs 49 Celts 40.

3rd Quarter

12:00 - Starting lineups are back on the floor as the 2nd half starts.

10:30 - Rondo knocks the ball away from Mo Williams, immediately gets it back, and is fouled by Lebron on a fast break layup attempt. Jeff Van Gundy would like me to know that that was not a foul; however, Lebron got him with the body although the block was clean. Celtics are closing in. The score is 49-45 after Rondo's free throws as the Cavs have yet to score.

10:00 - The scoring has really slowed in this game after a 33-23 first quarter. Both teams are holding the the other defensively. Their defenses are the true reason that these two teams are tops in the east.

9:28 - Lebron with a crossover, drive, and a made left-handed layup as he is fouled. He completes the 3 point play and the score is Cavs 52, Celtics 45. Lebron is just as good around the basket with his left hand as he is with his right, which we all probably know but is still amazing.

7:56 - Van Gundy and Marc Jackson both think Lebron has been the MVP thus far. I cannot disagree although Wade has been really good this year.

7:17 - Lebron with an nice double pump layup. He has 22 points. Cavs 56 Celts 49.

5:51 - Steals on both ends: one by West and the other by Rondo. More missed shots. The Cavs turn the ball over again. The Cavs have scored just 7 points in this quarter, but hold on to a 56-51 lead. This has really become a defensive battle.

5:10 - Pierce misses a 3 pointer. It looks like he has only 5 points in this game. He often has huge games against the Cavs as he seems to love the challenge of playing against Lebron. Credit Lebron with playing good D.

4:44 - The game has gotten sloppy. I think the Cavs have turned the ball over on their last three possessions. For the most part, the Celtics are returning the favor. Varejao ends the Cavs turnover streak with a nice one-handed layup over his head for 2 points and a trip to the foul line. Cavs 59 Celtics 51 after the made free throw.

4:26 - Ray Allen hits a 3. He now has 7.

3:58 - Varejao hits a jumper on a Lebron assist. He is having a solid game with 13 points.

3:45 - Rondo drives to the basket and falls to the floor after it looks like he is hit in the head by one of the Cavs. There is no call. I have now watched this three times, and I am pretty sure that he bounced the ball off the top of his head when he tried to shoot. I have never seen that before. Wow. The play ends with Garnett hitting a jumper after a scramble for the ball after Rondo's head maneuver.

Unknown time since ESPN stole the clock from the screen: Lebron with an amazing (for a normal player) block from behind on Allen's fast break layup attempt. That move is becoming routine for him. Remember when everyone was amazed when Tayshaun Prince blocks Reggie Miller's layup from behind a few years ago. Lebron now does it about once every game or two.

2:35: On the other end of the floor, Lebron hits a jumper while being fouled by Rondo. Lebron is doing everything tonight: dishing the ball, driving for layups, hitting a few threes, blocking shots and playing huge D on Paul Pierce. Cavs 64 Celts 56.

2:14: Lebron swarms Pierce and forces him to give it up. He had the ball for about 10 seconds and could do nothing with it. Hickson gets the board when Powe misses.

1:25: Van Gundy is stating that Mike Brown does not get enough credit for the Cavs defense. Amen. Lebron hits another 3. Cavs 69 Celtics 58.

0:40: Delonte West and Daniel Gibson show how the Cavs offense should run. West fakes a 3, drives to the basket, and kicks it to Gibson in the corner. Gibson does not have an open 3 so he drives to the basket, and kicks it to West who knocks down the 3. They worked the ball in and out with great ball movement.

0:00: Pierce misses a fallaway jumper with Lebron once again in his face to close the quarter. Cavs 72 Celtics 60 after 3.

Fourth Quarter

12:00 - Varejao, Szcerbiak, Williams, Hickson and Gibson are out there for the Cavs to start the 4th. House, Allen, Powe, Davis, and Pierce for the Celtics. Let's see how the Cavs handle the lead without Lebron on the floor when Lebron provided much of their offense in the 3rd.

11:12 - Pierce hits a jumper over West who is now guarding him. Although West is a good defender, Pierece could take advantage of this matchup.

11:00 - Mo Williams hits a running tear drop. This is his time of the game with Lebron being out.

10:14 - Mo Williams with a nice pass to Varejao who is fouled on the layup. Cavs 74 Celts 62 after Andy misses both free throws.

10:00 - Pierce with a turnaround jumper over Wally who is guarding him for some reason. A shot of Lebron shows he wants back in the game to guard Pierce. You have to love his desire to get back in their to play defense.

9:24 - Pierce is really forcing it with Lebron out. He gets two close-in layup shots and offensive rebound before Powe scores. Lebron is coming back in.

8:49 - Varejao forces an offensive foul on Leon Powe. Lebron follows with a driving layup. Then, he knocks the ball away from House, runs the length of the floor, and dives for the ball before it goes out. The crowd is loving it. Lebron wants this game. This is a huge game for him.

7:44 - Lebron hits a jumper in the corner. Cavs 78 Celts 66. Unless Pierce goes off on the Cavs, it is hard to see the Cavs losing at this point.

6:36 - Lebron with a steal and a tough left-handed layup over Allen. He how has 36 points and 4 steals. Cavs 83 Celts 68.

5:40 - Boston has now turned the ball over three straight times after a West steal.

5:20 - Are the Celtics resorting to Hack-a-Ben in a regular season game? They fouled Ben Wallace far away from the ball. Maybe smart but weak. Ben hits 1 of 2. Cavs 84 Celts 71.

5:00 - Following a Pierce missed layup with Lebron and Ben in his face, the Celtics foul Ben Wallace again. The crowd is booing. Varejao looks like he is going to come in for Ben who makes 1 of 2 again. I would leave Ben in just to make a point to Boston and because we are up 14.

4:55 - Varejao is called back from the scorer's table to the bench. I love it.

4:32 - Wallace is fouled again. Lebron tries to shoot before they can do it and makes a 3 pointer from about half court. He did not shoot in time, but it has the crowd going crazy. Wallace makes 1 of 2 a third time and Lebron slaps the ball out for the offensive rebound. The Celtics choose to cease fouling Big Ben as Lebron forces his way into the middle and is fouled. Cavs 90 Celts 71 after Lebron's free throws.

4:01 - According to the announcer, the Celtics will fall to third in the Eastern Conference after this game. Incredible. A few weeks ago, they were 27-2.

4:01 - More Ben Wallace fouling by the Celtics. Doesn't the Hack-a-Ben seem a little desparate for a reigning champion in the regular season? The Celtics are really struggling right now. They will have lost 7 of their last 9 after this game.

3:13 - Lebron is now on the bench. Hickson, Varejao, and Gibson are in. The Celtics big 3 are out. It is officially garbage time. Gibson knocks down a 3 after some nice ball movement. Cavs 95 Celts 78.

0:00 - Final Score: Cavs 98 Celtics 83.

Post Game Thoughts

This was a fun and exciting game tonight for Cavs fans. They took on one of the top teams in the NBA and beat them by 15 to extend their record at home to be 19-0. I wrote before the game that this was their first chance for a statement win to provide the final proof that they are an elite team. The Cavs made a statement tonight although we should keep in mind that Boston is struggling right now. The game was often close, but the Cavs always seemed like they were in control. Not to mention, they did all this without Zydrunas Ilgauskas. When the Cavs play defense like this, are aggresive on offense, and have good ball movement, I am not sure anyone can beat them.

Lebron James was all over the place tonight and had 38 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Also, I think he earned some All-Defensive team, if not Defensive player of the year, votes tonight with his defense on Pierce who only had 11 points. It was really obvious he wanted to win this game. Anderson Varejao also had a strong performance with 14 points and 9 rebounds. However, as Lebron basically stated after the game, this is only one game. Hopefully, the Cavs can use this game to build some momentum on their quest to get the #1 seed for their playoffs.

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