Cavaliers Preview Game #1: Celtics at Cavs

Boston Celtics (1-0) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
7:00 PM EST
FSOH/WTAM

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin a new journey tonight. Although the result of their path is as unclear as I can ever recall it being, just having the ability to begin down the path brings excitement. And with that excitement comes the nerves. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I was nervous about a season opener. Nervous in a good way, I mean. Nervous because I don’t know what to expect. Nervous because my security blanket is gone. Nervous because I had forgotten what it’s like to watch the Cavaliers and not have LeBron James being a part of it. But it’s a nervous excitement because tonight we begin this journey together. This is about as united as the fans, players, and team as a whole have been in a very long time. We don’t know how this is going to turn out, but we’re in this together.

Projected Starting Lineups

Boston Celtics: (2010-11 Stats)

-G Rajon Rondo (4.0 ppg, 17.0 apg, 2.0 spg, 13.90 PER)
-G Ray Allen (20.0 ppg, 1.0 apg, .625 3P%, 17.62 PER)
-F Paul Pierce (19.0 ppg, 9.0 rpb, 3.0 apg, 22.33 PER)
-F Kevin Garnett (10.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 0.0 bpg, 3.66 PER)
-C Shaquille O’Neal (9.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 14.14 PER)

Key Reserves: Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal, Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson

Injuries: Kendrick Perkins (out), Delonte West (suspended)

Cleveland Cavaliers: (2009-10 Stats)

-G Mo Williams (15.8 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 16.18 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.3 ppg, 1.9 apg, .414 3P%, 9.95 PER)
-F Jamario Moon (4.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 12.68 PER)
-F JJ Hickson (8.5 ppg, 4.9 apg, 0.5 bpg, 15.26 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (8.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 15.87 PER)

Key Reserves: Antawn Jamison, Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson, Jawad Williams, Ryan Hollins, Joey Graham, Leon Powe

Injuries: Daniel Gibson (probable), Mo Williams (questionable – personal reasons)

Team Efficiency Stats

Boston Celtics: (2010-11 Stats)

-Off (88.0 ppg, 42.0 rpg, .464 FG%, 25.0 apg, 20.0 TOpg, Eff-95.7, Rank-5)
-Def (80.0 ppg, 39.0 rpg, .418 FG%, Eff-87.9, Rank-1)

Cleveland Cavaliers: (2009-10 Stats)

-Off (102.1 ppg, 42.5 rpg, .485 FG%, 22.4 apg, 13.9 TOpg, Eff-108.8, Rank-4)
-Def (95.6 ppg, 38.5 rpg, .442 FG%, Eff-101.5, Rank-7)

Previous Matchups

None

Future Matchups

  1. Tue, Nov 30 at Cleveland
  2. Tue, Jan 25 at Boston

Game Notes

The good news? The Cavaliers got to scout the Celtics in real game action last night. The bad news? The Celtics looked pretty good. I mean, real good. As in, as long as this team stays healthy (don’t laugh….we laughed last year and the Celtics were healthy when they knocked the Cavs out of the playoffs), they might be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. I don’t want to overreact to one game. I’m sure the Heat will play better than they did last night. The Celtics’ depth, size, and ability to hit clutch shots in the 4th quarter are all issues that I’m not sure the Heat have an answer for.

You know who else I’m not sure has an answer for the Celtics? The Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m sure the Cavs are hoping that playing such an emotional, high profile game against the Heat and then flying to Cleveland late last night takes some of the pep out of their aging legs, but no matter what, the Cavaliers are going to have their hands full tonight.

We know the problems the Cavaliers have had in the past in slowing down Rajon Rondo. The Cavs are hardly alone in the aspect. The Heat got torn apart by Rondo as he sliced them up for 17 assists. The Cavaliers must do a better job on him. This is where Byron Scott must play around with his defensive matchups.

We know that Mo Williams simply can’t hang with Rondo. In the past, Mike Brown used to occasionally have LeBron defend Rondo to cover up this issue. Byron Scott doesn’t have that option. He can try putting the bigger Parker on Rondo to see if his size can disrupt him. He can try letting Jamario Moon attempt to use his athleticism on defense to keep up with Rondo, which would then cause Mo to have to defend Ray Allen and Anthony Parker would have his hands full with Paul Pierce. Perhaps the best option is to play Mo and Ramon Sessions heavy minutes together so you can use Sessions, a much better defender, on Rondo or even see what Daniel Gibson can do on him. No matter what, this is a problem.

Then you consider the frontcourt. Shaq isn’t a huge concern, but if he succeeds in getting Andy in early foul trouble, he can then use his size and strength to bully Ryan Hollins around and get some easy looks on the low post. The question, though, of course, is whether Shaq can then convert the low post layup. JJ Hickson and Antawn Jamison are both going to struggle defending Kevin Garnett. Particularly we saw how much Jamison struggled with KG in the playoffs last year. Hickson and Jamison were able to hold KG to just 10 points on 4-10 shooting last February, but other than that matchup, Garnett has had his way with the Cavaliers the last couple years.

The Celtics don’t do anything too tricky or complex on offense from a schematic point of view. Supposedly Doc Rivers would like Rondo to push the pace a bit this year (although I saw no signs of it against Miami), but in general Boston operates as a half court offensive team. They can be both incredibly efficient when they are working, and they can experience tremendous scoring droughts when they are broken. They tend to be both working and broken at various different times in each and every game. There aren’t many surprises with this team. The key as a defense is to keep them off the offensive glass to limit 2nd chance opportunities, cut off Rondo’s penetration at the point of attack (once he gets past the first level of defense, you’re done), and try not to let Ray Allen and Paul Pierce get even an inch of space to get their shot off.

For the Cavaliers on offense, they are going to face different challenges facing the vaunted Boston defense than what they’ve experienced the past few seasons. Whereas in the past it was all about finding ways to involve secondary players to help ease the burden on LeBron, the Cavaliers must now find ways to implement a true, full-team offense in order to be successful. You can beat the Celtics when one player scores 39% of the team’s total points as the Heat discovered last night. You have to use motion to get the Boston defenders moving from side to side to open up holes that you can exploit. This is why it’s a good thing the Cavaliers have overhauled their offensive approach. Now it’s just a question of how efficiently they can operate it.

The Celtics showed last night a slight vulnerability to the fast break. Although the Heat scored ‘just’ 11 fast break points, they had plenty more opportunities to get points in transition that they simply failed to convert on. This is why when the Celtics go through their trademark scoring droughts, it’s imperative that the Cavaliers box out to secure the rebounds (I’m looking at you, JJ) and then fill the wings breaking out in transition the other way. The Celtics are not a quick or particularly athletic team. Running on them is absolutely the way to beat them. We saw them struggle with some of the Cavs’ smaller lineups in years past and we saw them struggle in the playoffs against quick and athletic teams like the Bulls and Hawks. The Celtics’ strength on defense is in their discipline and awareness on double teams and rotations. Once you get them on their heels a bit, their effectiveness drops significantly. There’s no guarantee the Cavaliers are going to be able to succeed in this already this soon in the season, but this should be their game plan heading into the opener.

Mo Williams is still listed as questionable for this game. I have a hard time believing he’s not going to play, but if he doesn’t, it will not only open the door for Ramon Sessions to start (which I think he should be doing anyway, with Mo starting at the 2), but it could potentially open the door for Manny Harris to get some minutes with Daniel Gibson being the only other true guard on the bench. With Sessions in the lineup, the Cavaliers should be a little more effective defensively, but it will be of utmost importance that Sessions limit his shooting from the perimeter and instead focus on initiating the offense, pushing the tempo, and getting the ball into the lane. The Celtics actually do a better job defending shots from the perimeter than they do from inside the paint, it’s just that they make it so difficult to get into the lane against them. Once you get the ball inside on them, though, they lack true shot blocking despite their size, although this is an area Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal are thought to be able to help. If Sessions can succeed in getting the Cavaliers scoring opportunities in the lane, it will obviously go a long way toward making the Cavs more effective as a unit.

I’ll also be watching to see how effective Anderson Varejao can be going up against Shaq. In the past Andy has had limited success offensively going up against Shaq, but the question will be if Shaq can still keep up with Andy now that Shaq is older and coming off a game the night before.

The Celtics bench was huge for them last night, coming up with 26 points and were a combined +12 on the night. If the Cavaliers are to have any success, their bench production must be every bit as solid tonight. Daniel Gibson has waited a long time to feel like he’s truly a part of this team again, and tonight he’ll have his first chance to prove he deserves his role. Beyond Gibson, the Cavaliers have a plethora of solid, but not great reserves who can play interchanging roles tonight. To beat the Celtics, everyone is going to have to pitch in and do their role and find their own way to make some kind of positive contribution.

Opening night has not been good to the Cavaliers, especially when playing Boston. This will be the 4th time in the last 10 years the Cavs open with the Celtics, and the Cavaliers have lost each of the previous 3. Overall, the Cavaliers are a paltry 3-7 in season openers the last 10 years. Even with LeBron they were just 2-5. So this team is used to slow starts, but the hope has been that the franchise could start removing the word “slow” from their vocabulary. Beating the Celtics would be a great way to jump start that change in people’s perception of this team. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy.

Vegas Line

Cleveland +4.0
Over/Under 183.5

From The Outside Looking In

CelticsBlog
Celtics Hub
Red’s Army
Hardwood Houdini
Perk Is A Beast

Birds Of A Feather

Stepien Rules
Cavs: The Blog
The Wine and Gold Rush
Random Thoughts

Next Game For The Cavaliers

Friday, October 29, 2010
7:00 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors
FSOH/WTAM

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    I’m still standing by my tweet from this morning – I don’t think Mo will play tonight. His body language was not favorable. At best, he comes off of the bench for a few minutes.

    I expect a ton of Sessions and even more running. The Heat, for whatever reason, played a slew of halfcourt ball last night. The Cavs should be able to run the O’Neals off of the floor, forcing Garnett to the center slot. Not that that’s much better, but it’s their best chance at winning.

  • Stinkfist

    “The Heat, for whatever reason, played a slew of halfcourt ball last night.”
    -That “whatever reason” was #6

    Anyway, there is no chance this old Celtics team has a prayer, they are so old, and its been a long season. They have to be tired after last nights game
    /

  • mgbode

    Cavs for the division title.

    Hey, why not. Bulls are minus Boozer for awhile, no telling how well Bogut gets integrated back from injury and they did pickup Gooden and Maggette (those are negatives, right).

    Odds on favorite has to be the Bulls, but if the Cavs somehow find their way to 45 wins that might be enough in the East’s “other” division :)

  • jimkanicki

    @2stink, my thoughts exactly. waiting for woj’s column on the enabling culture provided by erik spoelstra.

    i thought it was also telling the bosh was equally ineffective vs kg (compare to antawn); wade useless against rondo (compare to mo).

    it might be a fun season watching the heat after all.

  • Nullster

    Any idea if this game will be on HD tonight or not? Currently it’s not listed on the FSOH HD Channel on Time Warner. Could be that’s it’s just not listed, but I’ll be a bit upset if I’m forced to watch this game not HD.

  • Roosevelt

    @#4 Jim – I’ve posted this beforre (about an hour ago) but Maybe if more people see the question…

    What’s the deal with Woj and Lebron? How can he see things sooo differently than any other writer in America?

  • Mark

    I’m suprisingly excited/curious about this team. Tonight’s matchup, not a great one for us or anyone else in the East. The Celtics absolutely should be the favorite in the East. I’m not thinking too highly of the Heat.

    What’s the over/under on Riley taking over the head coaching job in Miami? I’d set it at 20 games.

  • jimkanicki

    @6 woj does not like lebron. thinks he’s a self-absorbed diva and supplies anecdotes to back it up. woj’s source would have to be mike brown or mo williams to get the data he has. i always thought woj was too hard on gilbert for ‘enabling.’ as stork from animal house said, ‘what the f we sposed to do ya moron?’

    im surprised to be looking forward to tonite’s game. after watching mike brown’s 2009 cavs last nite, i’m really interested in seeing how a (possibly) well coached team does against the celts.

    (@6nullster-it’s on HD here in boston…!)

  • http://ato.com Jmoney

    LETS GO CAVS!!

    Most excited i been for opening night in 7 years!!

    Finally we can build a “team” the right way, we obviously saw a one-man show will only get you so far.

    RISE UP CAVS FANS, LETS WEAR OUR WINE & GOLD TONIGHT WITH PRIDE!!

    CAVS +4 IS A LOCK!!

    LETS GO CAVS! LETS GO CAVS! LETS GO CAVS! LETS GO CAVS!!!!!

    I DONT LIVE IN CLEVELAND ANYMORE, BUT I BOUGHT THE NBA PACKAGE AGAIN THIS YEAR TO FOLLOW MY CAVS ALL SEASON LONG – HOPE TO SEE THE Q ROCKING TONIGHT, WISH I COULD BE THERE TO SUPPORT THE GUYS THAT WANT TO BE IN THE LAND.

    GO CAVS!! REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE BYRON SCOTT ERA…

  • MattC

    I will be rockin in the Q tonight – it better be thunderous. This team deserves our support as much as we deserve a good product. Hope we can take advantage of a tired, road-weary Celtics team… it will be tough though, by the looks of last night

  • Roosevelt

    @ Jim – It’s obvious that Woj has a bone to pick with Lebron. And if what he writes is true, he seems to have good sources. So where is everyone else? Why does everyone else think that Mav and the Posse are all that? Why does no one else notice what a diva Lebron supposedly is? If he really had to be talked back onto the court regularly by coaches in practice, if Brown et al really clashed with him over the isolation plays, then why was he always “such a coachable player”? And how can we have watched him for seven years and never have seen a sign of this?

  • jimkanicki

    @11roose — fear of the loss of access. no one covering the cavs could report what was happening or else they’d lose any contacts. hell, Arash Markazi, actually HAD access and when he reported lebron in vegas, espn spiked it.

    another thing that is obvious: a certain beat reporter who is widely viewed at a top talent at his craft didn’t report on things that would affect his access. windy likely gave us 70% of the story and the other 30% would have been helpful to know.

    i, for one, say thank god for deadspin. more journalistic integrity there than at espn, that’s for sure.

  • Mike

    @Roosevelt: Since when are we talking about an athlete’s advisors? Is Wojnarowski digging into the posses of Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki or Baron Davis? Of course not. Woj went after LeBron in a way that was strictly personal, as proven by the lack of expose pieces about Wade being so self-centered that he is talking about how he no longer wants to go by his nickname. Woj absolutely has a hard-on for LeBron, and it affects his writing.

    The reason that no one else talked about Maverick Carter is the same reason that no one writes about executive producers – the story is the star, not the guy behind the scenes. Talking about Maverick just makes him more famous, it doesn’t do that much to discredit him.

  • TurkeyJ

    @JMoney

    Love the enthusiasm man – but would be nervous to put too much money on that line

  • Christopher

    Tonight we’re gonna take no prisnors
    Tonight we’re gonna live our dream
    Tonight the WINE and GOLD deliver
    Hard working town, hard working team

    Oooohh, Cavs basketball…tonights the night!

    C’mon CAVS!!

  • Christopher

    *prisoners

    ….perfectly good Michael Stanley Cavs intro song ruined by my fat fingers and this tiny IPhone keypad!

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I would love it if they would bring back the old intro song. Ahh…nostalgia!

  • Jack

    so, off to a rough start already…what are these family introductions?

  • REEPJP

    well……we made it through intros….the power didn’t cut out, fans are there (and cheering), tv broadcast is working…..WE WILL SURVIVE! REJOICE!

  • typo

    are you kidding me? ARE YOU FRICKIN KIDDING ME??? HAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!

  • Vorax

    W.

  • Christopher

    Alright I know this was one game BUT…

    It was a huge win for the city. We NEED fans downtown this winter and this was big to show them this team doesn’t plan on rolling over.

    Also, Byron Scott…I love you. I knew he would be the intangible on this team that would make it SO hard to gauge their success.

    Good win for the fans and a great big F-U to the national critics who said we wouldn’t win 20 games this year.

  • Ohrly

    That was good entertainment.

  • mosox42

    Respect.

  • dr. cleveland

    Might only be one game but that felt great.

  • TSR3000

    We are better than Miami. Thats proof!

  • Jake

    Great win, albeit against a tired Boston team .

    Meanwhile.. Cliff Lee collapses in San Francisco.

  • Mark

    Nice, nice, nice!!!

  • Jake

    Did anyone see the ESPN poll earlier in the day? It asked which would be more surprising: Cliff Lee getting rocked, or Cavs winning tonight. I said Cliff Lee, but go figure both happened.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    That was really fun to watch. If the Cavs play like that all year Dan Gilbert will have no worries about filling up the Q. Loved all the hustle, loved so many players in double figure scoring, loved no ball hog slowing everybody down in crunch time. Kelly Dwyer will have to rethink this.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Great W, and in case anyone’s watching the (really good) OKC-CHI game on ESPN, a really nice gesture by the announcers to take a solid 15 seconds in the middle of the 4th to talk about what issues he has and then wish well to Joe Tait.

    Also, Kevin Durant > LeBron James – not only can he do everything himself, but he knows how to work with the guys on his team – not just kicking out, but actually playing a nice 2- or 3-man game on offense.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Cavs had 13 turnovers. LeBron had 9 tonight, has 17 (!!) in two games.

    Who wants to track the Heat’s record in games where LeBron leads the team in scoring vs. games where someone else does? :) So far, 0-1 when he does, 1-0 when he doesn’t.

  • ClevelandSouth

    Ahhhhhhh

    It won’t matter in ten days, but that felt good.

  • JM

    We’re gonna be OK.

  • James

    Hot ballz!!

  • sealedhuman

    That felt amazing.

  • MattC

    That was the most fun I’ve had at a sporting event in I don’t know how long. WOW. What a great effort. You know this team was playing above their talent level to win that game… and you know what? Credit Byron Scott all the way for that. I’m not so sure they can’t keep that effort up under this guy.

  • St. McDuck

    Wow. What a fantastic effort. Go Cavs!

  • Ike

    So proud

  • Karsten

    I’ve never felt so happy to win a basketball game and be in attendance. It was the happiest moment for me. Cleveland can do what the Miami Dream Team cannot. The ball moved, everyone had huge contributions, an Byron Scott hands-down outcoached Doc Rivers. He’s the reason we were in the game still, after 3 quarters. Fun and awesome game.

  • Anthony

    1 win down 11 to go

    /YahooSports’d

  • MP34

    Awesome win. How happy did Dan Gilbert look at the end?

  • thebigmack67

    Watched every minute of it, and loved it!!!

    What a great game, I think we can sneak into the playoffs this year for sure. It’s going to be a fun team to watch all season, might have to get a Hickson jersey!!!!

    Go Cavs!

  • http://www.ginola.nl dutch

    Let’s not get carried away. It was against a tired Celtics team. Still, this gives the team a lot of momentum to build on. Let’s see if they can keep it up in Toronto tonight.

  • 216livingin404

    my wife’s from SF, i’m from cleveland. last night was one hell of a night, i love it :)