Cavaliers Preview Game #1: Celtics at Cavs

Cavaliers vs CelticsBoston Celtics (0-0) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
7:30 PM EST
TNT/WTAM

Here we are once more. Back for another season of NBA basketball, and tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers look to pick up where they left off last season at home. After going 39-2 at the Q last year, we all know if will be awfully tough for the team to match that record again this year, but if the Cavaliers want to have any hope of doing so, they need to get off to a good start. And so we welcome in our old nemesis, the Boston Celtics. It feels like it’s becoming an annual rite of passage to kick the season off against the Celtics (even though this is only the 2nd year in a row), and this year will be no exception. These teams know each other all too well, and after 2 seasons of home team domination, we continue to wait to see which team will be the first to get a road win in this series. Here’s to hoping it won’t be Boston’s time to shine tonight.   

Projected Starting Lineups (All stats from 2008-09)

Boston Celtics:

-G Rajon Rondo (11.9 ppg, 8.2 apg, 1.9 spg, 18.90 PER)
-G Ray Allen (18.2 ppg, 2.8 apg, .409 3P%, 17.34 PER)
-F Paul Pierce (20.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 17.74 PER)
-F Kevin Garnett (15.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 21.32 PER)
-C Kendrick Perkins (8.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 13.29 PER)

Key Reserves: Eddie House, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Shelden Williams

Injuries: Glen Davis (out), Bill Walker (out), Tony Allen (out), Brian Scalabrine (out)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-G Mo Williams (17.8 ppg, 4.1 apg, 0.9 spg, 17.25 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (10.7 ppg, 3.4 apg, .390 3P%, 12.16 PER)
-F LeBron James (28.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 7.2 apg, 31.76 PER)
-F Anderson Varejao (8.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 14.62 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (17.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 22.33 PER)

Key Reserves: Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson, Jamario Moon, JJ Hickson, Darnell Jackson

Injuries: Delonte West (doubtful), Leon Powe (out)

Team Efficiency Stats

Boston Celtics:

-Off (100.9 ppg, 42.1 rpg, .486 FG%, 22.7 apg, 15.6 TOpg, Eff-110.5, Rank-6)
-Def (93.4 ppg, 37.6 rpg, .431 FG%, Eff-102.3, Rank-2)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Off (100.3 ppg, 42.2 rpg, .468 FG%, 20.3 apg, 12.7 TOpg, Eff-112.4, Rank-4)
-Def (91.4 ppg, 38.9 rpg, .431 FG%, Eff-102.4, Rank-3)

Previous Matchups

None

Future Matchups

  1. Thu, Feb 25 at Boston
  2. Sun, Mar 14 at Cleveland
  3. Sun, Apr 4 at Boston

Game Notes

For what it’s worth, season openers have not been kind to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. In the LeBron James era, the Cavaliers are just 2-4 in season openers while LeBron himself averages “just” 23.67 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in openers. He’s only scored more than 25 points three times, has only had more than 6 rebounds twice, and has only had more than 6 assists twice. So perhaps it’s unfair to expect LeBron and company to come blasting out of the gates.

On the other hand, I think the Cavaliers have an awful lot to prove tonight. There’s been a lot of people questioning whether or not the LeBron-Shaq partnership is going to work, and after the way the team got torn apart by the Celtics last week in Columbus, I expect the Cavaliers to want to make a point early in this game. The question will be a) whether or not that chemistry is there from the beginning and b) how effective the Celtics are at stopping the Cavaliers.

Delonte West has been listed as doubtful for this game, so it remains to be seen what his role will be, but for the rest of the Cavaliers, it’s going to be fun to see what kind of rotations Mike Brown uses and what kind of offensive sets the team is using. Will they go in to Shaq early in this game? How comfortable will Anthony Parker be in the offense. Will Mo Williams be content letting Shaq and LeBron get themselves going before he starts getting himself going? These are going to be fun points to watch for.

If you remember last year’s opener with Boston, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early 22-11 lead over Boston, but then in the 2nd quarter Mike Brown basically made wholesale substitutions and the Celtics came roaring back. It was a quick lesson that you can’t have Mo, Delonte, and LeBron all sitting at the same time. This year, ideally, there will be more flexibility and depth to allow Mike Brown to make more wholesale changes should he choose to do so.

I look for LeBron and Shaq to play a lot of 2-man game early in this one, trying to be aggressive in going at the Celtics interior. With Glen Davis being out, along with Scalabrine, the Celtics are pretty thin up front in this game. If KG or Perk gets into foul trouble early, it could create a huge advantage for the Cavaliers front court. Regardless, you can expect Rasheed Wallace to log heavy minutes tonight, and don’t be surprised if Shelden Williams gets more minutes than you would typically expect.

If LeBron and Shaq can find a rhythm in their 2-man game on offense, it could open up the offense completely. With Celtics defenders being lulled in by Shaq and LeBron, it will create a lot of room for Andy to get open looks on cuts to the rim, or else it will leave Mo and Parker with a lot of wide open looks. This is the dynamic the Cavaliers were missing last year and I will be sorely disappointed in Mike Brown and the rest of the Cavaliers if they don’t use this to their advantage.

On defense, the Cavaliers are going to have some issues with Delonte being out. Namely, they have nobody who can slow down Rondo. As we have seen time and time again in this series, when Rondo is getting into the lane, the Cavaliers cannot stop the Celtics offense. With the way the Cavaliers rotate on their help assignments, when a guy is beating his man at the point of the attack, the Cavaliers will do a full rotation which tends to leave someone open on the back end of the rotation. This is fine against most teams, but the Celtics have so many weapons and are such a great team that they almost always exploit this rotation and make multiple passes out of it to get an uncontested shot in the lane. It will be up to Mo to step up his defense on Rondo, or else Anthony Parker is going to have to show that he can do it. The last resort would be using Jamario Moon’s size advantage to harass Rondo, but you wonder if Rondo would be able to get underneath Moon too easily. It’s a major matchup advantage for Boston and, in my opinion, the key matchup to watch in this game.

Finally, the last thing to watch for is of course the LeBron vs Pierce matchup. These 2 competitors absolutely hate each other, and they love squaring off against one another. We’ve seen some memorable performances by each of them throughout the years, and I never get tired of watching them go at each other. Paul Pierce is LeBron’s biggest rival in this league, and there’s nothing like the show they tend to put on. As I pointed out earlier, LeBron typically gets off to slow starts (last year he had 22/7/6 in Boston in the opener), but we’ll see if tonight he finds the motivation to do something special for us.

Vegas Line

Cleveland –4.5
Over/Under 183.5

From The Outside Looking In

CelticsBlog
Red’s Army
Celtics Hub
Loy’s Place

Next Game For The Cavaliers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors
FSOH/WTAM

  • MrCleaveland

    Can’t wait for the first Shaq Daddy WHAM WITH THE RIGHT HAND!

  • Matt#2

    I want to see two things:
    1. Is Lebron going to play with his back to the basket, ball in hand, at any time?
    2. Is Mike Brown going to leave Shaq in even while he is not getting (too tired to get) back on defense?

  • Boomhauer

    I look forward to seeing plenty of Shelden “Candace Parker’s husband” Williams on the floor.

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    Boomhauer-

    We must remember we have Anthony “Candace Parker’s Brother” Parker on our team, too.

  • Eli

    Bill Walker is so important to the Celtics that he is listed as out twice!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Cavs and Celtics is family. Makes me want to vom-vom.

  • Brick

    Over/Under 110??? I’ll take the over… VEGAS HERE I COME! wheeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

    Haha, what are you trying to pull, Rock?

  • Tsunami

    I wonder if AP was mad at Mo after the scuffle? Who does Candace root for tonight? Hubby or Brother? She probably just roots for LeBron LOL!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    Hahaha, my bad….I gotta get the first game bugs out of my system. I’m a little rusty.

  • P@

    One thing I’ve noticed about LeBron… the guy always starts out the season extremely cold from both the 3 point line and the free throw line. Or maybe I am imagining things, but I would say look for both of those things to be true tonight… however, if the Cavs play disciplined team basketball, I don’t see them losing.

  • Lebron’s lack of regard for human life

    Look for me tonight. I’ll be there.

  • humboldt

    Rock – great work today. Just curious: is the enmity b/t Pierce and Lebron real or exaggerated? Anyone have insight?

  • Ike

    Wow, do I hate the Celtics. Can’t wait for tonight.

  • Cavalette23

    And so it Begins…. Cavs Season Opener!..Let’s Go Cavs!

  • M.

    Hoping they bounce back after the hideous “effort” down here in Columbus last week… Scheduling conflict means I’ll probably only get to see the first half live. Have to DVR, ignore the Blackberry and stay up until 2 or 3 to watch the whole thing.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ humboldt – based on this piece in the Boston Globe today there’s nothing but respect between the teams. That’s at this point anyways. There’s nothing specific about LBJ v Pierce per se, but an overall look at things.

  • MrCleaveland

    Shaq’s first dunk is going to make that place KEE-RAY-ZEE! The fans are going to go totally nuts! They’ll probably have to call a time-out just to settle the place down and to control all the ear bleeding. This is going to be totally memorable.

  • Brick

    No worries, Rock. You’re just lucky I stopped myself before putting down 10 large.

    I can’t put into words how pumped I am for this game. My roommate actually wore his Varejao wig and jersey around campus today!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    @humboldt: It’s quite real, and it stems from this incident: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/6332419/

    Don’t let the Boston Globe fool you. Yes, these teams respect each other, but they do not like each other.

  • Tapin

    Solid writeup, Rock, but can I suggest you either remove or completely rewrite this sentence?

    “It feels like it’s becoming an annual rite of passage to kick the season off against the Celtics (even though this is only the 2nd year in a row), and this year will be no exception.”

    …it reads like it was written, then researched, and finally the parenthetical added which makes the subordinate clause nonsense. I’m certain that’s not actually what happened, though ;-)

  • Matt#2

    @20
    NO. That is my favorite sentence in many days.

  • Dave

    Another potential personal rivalry: Verajao versus Ray Allen. Lest we forget –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGgDF0oFM4Y

  • The Big Witness Protection

    From my Twitter page:

    Sheed – I’m going to dunk right on that weird spot on your head!
    KG – Don’t come in the lane, you’re knee can’t handle it!
    Pierce – You’ll never be as good as Lebron!
    Ray Ray – Senior discount at the B Spot before tipoff!
    Rondo – LOL!

  • Jay

    @Dave – I’m looking forward to see when the first shoving match takes place, or the first time two players get in eachothers face. Andy vs. Ray Allen, and if Sheed and Big Z get tangles up…man is it 7:30 yet?!?!?!

    LET”S GO CAVS!!!

  • TSR3000

    Did not think it was possible to hate Sheed any more. TWAS/ TWIS argggghhhh lets get it

  • Chris

    Let’s not forget how easily Andy V gets under Sheed’s skin. I love watching Sheed get frustrated with him.

  • Roosevelt

    Despite my negative prediction in the last thread, this whole discussion has me pumped! Go Cavs!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com RockKing

    @Tapin: I stand by that statement 100%. The part in parenthesis was merely added as insurance against smarta**es who nitpick statements like that. This feels like an annual tradition to open the season against Boston.

  • MrCleaveland

    @28

    Rock, I believe the correct phrasing is “I stand by that statement 110%.” Otherwise, it’s like you’re not even trying. Also, the phrase “merely added” should be “added merely,”

    This feels like it could be an annual tradition to nitpick Rock’s Opening Game Preview.

  • Eli

    Open Thread Action!?

  • Tapin

    Heh, okay Rock, as long as Chewbacca is a Wookie who lives on Endor, the sentence works for me.

    One hour to tip-off!

  • Brick

    Chewbacca didn’t live on Endor… but he was a Wookie!