Ugh, this game was not fun. Sometimes the Cavs made some stops and other times they went on an offensive spurt... but these rarely coincided. The Cavs weren't good from either end of the floor. The Celtics shot 52% and had 27 assists on 34 baskets(!!!) while the Cavs shot 38% (16 assists on 31 baskets). James tweaked his ankle, Coach Mike got himself tossed and Damon Jones finally cooled off (1-4 from 3). How they only lost by 5 is beyond me.
LeBron had a big night... kinda. He became the youngest player to reach 10,000 career points, which is kinda neat. He also hurt his ankle late in the first half... which isn't neat at all. However, James did come back in the second half and he finished 26 points, 8 boards and 4 assists. His shooting was a problem; LeBron was just 7-24 from the floor and shot a brutal 1-6 from behind the arc. This was a tough game for James and company; Boston is a great defensive team (though I felt they got away with a ton of shoving) and the new guys aren't completely in sync with each other. Say what you will about Gooden and Hughes (and I have), but they at least knew where they should be on the court (the new guys are having some spacing problems).
Mike Brown is angry. Brown was furious at a no-call, touch foul sequence in the third quarter and blew up at the officials. Brown was visibily upset and was actually shoving his assistant coaches to get at the refs. Though I kinda wish he had done it during the Bucks game, his angry tirade was a welcome sight. Not that I want him getting kicked out on a regular basis, but I wouldn't mind Brown getting T'd up every now and then, just to show the guys he's got their backs.
Even though Wally isn't shooting well, I'd rather have him starting over Devin Brown. The Cavs started Delonte West and Brown in the backcourt and there were multiple instances where West or James drove the lane, drew the defense in... and kicked out to Devin freaking Brown. I love a lot of what Devin brings to the team, but his long distance shooting isn't one of them. Starting both Brown and Ben Wallace doesn't seem like best idea.
Szczerbiak had another bad shooting game. He was just 3-13 from the floor, but he was 2-3 from downtown and 4-4 from the line. Wally finished with 12 points, 5 boards and 2 assists. Like many of the Cavaliers, Szczerbiak seemed frustrated with the foul situation (he had 4 PFs) and he definitely could've made another couple of trips to the stripe (which would give him a 3-11 night... much better!). Szczerbiak (2-3) and West (2-4) were the only guys hitting from behind the arc (James was 1-6, Damon Jones 1-4 and Brown 0-2).
I'm just going to keep saying it: Ben Wallace has no lift. He moves well up and down the court, he rotates well on the defensive end... but he's been caught flat footed many, many times in his 3 games for the Cavaliers. Maybe he's thinking too much about positioning and where he should be on the floor, I dunno. Maybe lift isn't the right word... spring could work better. When Wallace has time, he gets up and dunk the ball or skies for a rebound. But when it's a quick play, he's trying to lay it up or he's floor bound.
Both Z and Varejao were available, so that was cool. Z finished with 8 points and 12 boards in 28 minute of court time. He was 4-9 from the field and somehow didn't attempt a single free throw. Varejao seemed preoccupied with drawing fouls on Boston players and never seemed to get a rhythm out there. Andy didn't attempt a single shot and had just 4 boards (though he did pitch in 3 assists, 2 steals and a block). The other big man, Joe Smith, had a solid offensive game, 9 points on 4-5 shooting, but only had 15 minutes of court time due to foul trouble (5 fouls).
Delonte West had a big game in his return to Boston. West had 20 points (8-13 shooting), 5 boards and 2 assists. West looks really good in the open floor and I really want to see what him and James can do once they get used to each other. I'd also like to see West and Z get some pick-and-pops going; let's see how those two can work off each other.
Oh ya, the Celtics. I've said this before, but I'm not overly impressed by them. I've never been a big fan of either KG (get some post moves!) or Pierce (take better shots!) and I wonder how they're going to do in a long playoff run. They're old, not particularly deep (though they just signed PJ Brown and they're hoping Sam-I-Am gets bought out) and I think the Cavs matchup fairly well against them. For the game, Garnett had a solid 18 points, 11 board, 5 assist and 4 steal game and Ray Allen was 7-10 from the floor (5-6 from beyond the arc- ouch!) and finished with 22 points. Like I said after the Milwaukee game, I wish this game was played next week, after the new guys were completely settled in.
Just what the doctor ordered: the Timberwolves at home. Friday, the Cavs face a Minnesota team that is 2-24 on the road and 2-8 in their last 10 games overall. The Cavs should have this group of guys for a decent stretch (both Z and Varejao are back) and hopefully they can start building some familiarity with each other. The Cavs face a headbandless Drew Gooden and the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.