By Jon Evans
In hindsight, sometimes it just makes sense to hit snooze and curl back under the covers. It would’ve been nice to learn that lesson before yesterday morning when I set out for the 12:30 tip off between the Cavaliers and the Celtics. With morning temperatures below freezing, the hope of seeing two MVP front-runners go face to face helped make the commute to the Garden more bearable. While knowing that LeBron was questionable, at the very least, I was hoping for some hashbrowns.
Prayers answered, we have hashbrowns – that’s a Tommy Point for the C’s catering crew. Though there’s something screwy going on with the eggs; we’ll mark that one down as a turnover.
Great, Devin Brown will be in the starting lineup. Thank you Detroit Pistons for taking the fun out of my afternoon.
We’ve got a slight twist to the pregame intros. Instead of the usual KG yell on the jumbotron, we’ve got Paul Pierce forewarning “weeerrreeee baaaaacccckk.” Just as effective, the crowd comes alive; it’s time for player introductions.
Obviously the crowd is noticeably disappointed when they see LeBron in something that vaguely resembles a turtleneck and blazer on the sidelines.
Opening Cavs possession, Sasha drives on Pierce but KG comes over from the weakside for the block, forcing a shotclock violation.
KG pumpfakes and connects on the turnaround on Gooden, 2-0 Celtics.
Another Sasha drive on Pierce. This one misses, but Z’s right there for the tip in. 2-2.
Celtics run it back into KG in the paint, miss.
Perkins makes his move down low but completely airballs a hook shot from 6 feet. That’s hard to do.
Sasha forces up a three to beat the shot clock, misses. Where are points going to come from for these Kingless Cavs? I get the sense that I’m going to be typing Sasha Pavolvic’s name a lot, and that’s probably not the best thing for the Cavs chances of pulling out a win
Minutes after getting blocked, Sasha drives right into KG for two. That shut me up. 6-4 Celtics.
Gooden beats KG down court and converts on an alley-op fingerroll. Eight minutes left in the first, knotted at 8.
Perkins faces up on Z, backs him down, goes to the McHale up-and-under, and travels.
Z for 2, 10-8 Cavs.
Celtics turn the ball over on three straight possessions. To put that in perspective, and take another potshot at the Knicks, the Celtics had a total of 6 turnovers their last home game; none of which were committed by a Boston starter.
To say the air is taken out of the building without The King is an understatement. This is easily the most dead that I have seen this place. Clearly, not many settled for the solid plan B of hashbrowns this morning. The Celtics seem slow and have no real pep in their step.
KG to a cutting Perkins for the lay-in. 10-10.
Jesus drives right, finishes left. 12-12 4:54.
Impressive fadeaway from Gooden, 14 all.
Next possession KG tries for payback and misses a jumper
I don’t feel comfortable acknowledging the Celtics dancers on a Sunday morning. Leon Powe and a few others don’t agree.
Big Baby bad pass from the high post to Pierce leads to another C’s turnover.
Drew Gooden is doing his part to keep the Cavs in the game. His lay-in with two minutes in the first puts Cleveland up two.
Jesus converts on a tough drive. He hangs in the air, takes hit from Dwayne Jones and converts the and-1. 17-16 Celtics.
Boobie gets Jesus to bite on shot fake from the right wing. He penetrates and finishes strong for two plus one. I didn’t know he could do that. 19-17 Cavs.
Last possession of the quarter, Boobie drives, but Big Baby comes up with the big block to end the quarter.
The fuscia sheet making its way down press row tells me the Celtics finished the first quarter with 7 turnovers. Sunday mornings are rough.
Damon Jones connects on a three from the corner. I’ve got a hunch I’ll be typing “Damon Jones” and “three” a lot today. Though I’m not so sure about the “connects” part. Cavs + 5.
Tony Allen misses a drive. Big Baby misses the putback. With a lineup of those two with House, Posey and Scalabrine, where are the points coming from? Did someone force Doc to handicap his lineup to help the Kingless Cavs? Regardless, I guess we’ll see how deep these Celtics are.
House finds Big Baby down low. Lay in +1. 23-20 Cavs.
9:02 – KG in for Scalabrine.
Garnett passes to a cutting Tony Allen. Miss. The other Allen may have connected. By the way, where is the other Allen? Or Pierce? Rondo? Bueller? Bueller?
Big Baby draws the charge on Damon Jones. I’ve taken a lot of physics classes over the years and that just doesn’t seem possible.
KG misses in the paint.
Sasha connects on a tough drive across the lane. 28-23 Cavs.
C’s turnover, they tried to force a tough pass. Cavs have ctive hands defensively and seem a step quicker overall. Ensuing Cleveland fastbreak leads to a Gooden dunk.
Posey shot fake, drives left wing and connects for the and-1. 6 mins, 30-26 Cavs.
Celtics are picking up full court but only manage to pickup another defensive three second violation.
Pierce pulls down the offensive rebound on a missed three from Jesus. His layup brings the Celtics within two. Timeout Cleveland. 4 minutes left, 33-31 Cavs.
Scott Pollard and Eddie House join Leon Powe in watching some guys flip around the court during the timeout. Maybe it has nothing to do with the dancers. Maybe the Celtics bench is just easily distracted.
Rondo drives aggressively on Gibson. It’s worth noting that Rondo finished strong for two instead of kicking it out to someone else. Before the game, Doc acknowledged that Rondo needs to finish the layup when the opportunities present themselves instead of kicking it out to the perimeter. Three minutes left in the third, 33 all.
Random note: from up here in the second level press seating, Daniel Gibson and Rajon Rondo look an awful lot alike. This makes one wonder what kind of point you’d get by combining their games. I think Rajiel Gibsando could be the next Tony Parker.
Jesus steal and breakaway jam. Celtics by 3.
Definition of Sunday Morning: 1) A trip to a religious institution. 2) An NFL pregame show. 3) The aforementioned hashbrowns. 4) When Eric Snow cuts through the heart of your defense for a layup. 36-35 Celtics.
Garnett benefits from a generous and-1 call. He was fouled. Then held. Then everyone stopped moving. Then he drove for a halfhearted layup. The free throw misses. Ball never lies. 38-35 Cavs with a minute and change left in the first half.
Perkins saves a Celtics possession by tracking down a ball before it goes out of bounds. The crowd loves it. The Tommy Point lives. Take that, Jake.
Rondo has it on an isolation up top. He blows by his twin. Fouled, hits both from the line. 43-39 Celtics at the half.
Opening possession Allen three top of the key. C’s +7.
KG missed jumper from 17 feet. Shooting 2-9 from the field so far.
Sasha slashes, Z finds him for the jam. 46-41 Celtics.
KG misses a hook streaking across the lane.
Babyface drives right baseline for 2. 9 mins left 48-41 Green
KG misses on a 20-footer from left baseline. I’m sensing a pattern.
Garnet commits an offensive foul while making more in paint. KG looks out of sync today. Clearly the milkman didn’t have his orange strawberry Gatorade AM this morning.
Rondo steps in for a 20-foot jumper in his twin’s mug. 54-44 C’s. 5 mins left in 3rd.
Next Celtics possession, Rondo gets an open 20-footer from right baseline. Timeout Cavs. 56-44. I’d imagine if you’re Cleveland, you’d take solace in the fact that you’re holding KG to 2-11 from the field. If Rondo beats you with jumpers, you take that.
KG misses baseline jumper. Big Baby checks in for KG.
Big Baby drives through the paint. His sweeping hook extends the lead to 15.
Boobie for 3. 61-48.
Damon Jones misses another three. This feels right.
Big Baby cleans up a Rondo miss. The putback of the glass puts C’s up 14, 64-50.
Hopefully Damon Jones is good at cards or something because with another missed open three, he’s showing he’s not very good at basketball anymore. He’s shooting 29% from the field this game. If he’s not hitting, why is he out there? Does the Li-Ning sneaker company have dirt on Mike Brown?
Sasha opens up the 4th missing a three. Again, who scores for this team?
House pull up from 15, rims in. 68-50. 10:47 left. Time to close the laptop.
Ray finds Big Baby. Celtics +20.
Big Baby tries to draw a charge on Snow. I appreciate the hustle but I still object to this on principle. The referees are on my side as the block is called on Big Baby. Snow hits 1-2 from the line. 7:43 left, 73-56.
House to Allen. House drifts back. Allen drives cross the paint, finds House for a fadeaway three. Wet. Celtics +20.
With 3:55 left Big Baby fouls out, drawing a standing ovation from the remaining crowd in the process. LSU’s finest finished the afternoon with nine points, seven boards , and about three Tommy Points in 21 minutes of action.
Some garbage time threes from Newble and Shannon Brown bring us to an underwhelming 80-70 final.
The final box shows KG finishing with 9 points on 2-12 shooting and 8 boards. After finishing in double figures in 435 straight games, this is now the second time in three games KG has failed to do so. Pierce wasn’t’ much better shooting just 2 for 7 from the field for seven points. If it weren’t for Jesus’ game-high 20 points on 8-16 from the field, the Celtics 37% FG-percentage may have plummeted to Knick-like levels of futility.
“Very Odd game. 8 o’clock, 8 o’clock, then a noon game,” Garnett said referring to the Celtics recent schedule. “We were passive to come out. At the half we talked about being more aggressive and trying to get into a groove which was difficult to do.”
Afternoon games aren’t one onf my favorites,” Garnett continued. “But when the ball’s thrown up, no excuses.”
“Its hard to say why, we just didn’t have the energy we normally come out with,” Pierce said “I don’t know if it was because it was early or if it was Lebron not playing. But we usually come out with a better start, especially at home.”
Meanwhile, Big Baby enjoys his newfound celebrity as he’s swarmed by media at his locker.
“That’s what we needed, we needed a spark toady,” Davis said. “When you’re a bench player you have to come in an contribute in any way possible. That’s one of the things I can help the team with, bringing energy and playing as hard as possible… As a bench player you have to do the little things. It’s the little things that win championships.”
That may be the first time Big Baby has every associated himself with the word little.