Celtics pick up where they left off (FINAL: Celtics 90, Cavaliers 85)
The ring's the thing. But a win is a nice bonus.
The 2008-2009 Celtics opened the defense of their NBA title with a 90-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points. Kevin Garnett clawed his way to 11 points and 6 rebounds.
LeBron James had 22 points on just 9 of 21 shooting for Cleveland. He missed two crucial free throws near the end of the game that would have put Cleveland in a good position to take the lead.
We'll be back with plenty of postgame coverage from both locker rooms in a bit.
Powe seals it (0:05.3 fourth quarter, Celtics 88-84)
The Celtics beat the press and found Leon Powe for a dunk to go up 4.
Cavs get a stop (0:15.5 fourth quarter, Celtics 86-83)
Paul Pierce missed a fadeaway over Anderson Varejao and the Cavs have the ball with one more chance to tie the game here.
Williams makes it interesting (0:53 fourth quarter, Celtics 86-83)
A three-pointer by Mo Williams has turned what was a comfortable lead into a one-possession game.Celtics ball.
Perkins gone (3:33 fourth quarter, Celtics 82-78)
Kendrick Perkins was called for an offensive foul, his sixth of the game. He was replaced by Leon Powe.
Five for Perkins (5:36 fourth quarter, Celtics 78-72)
Kendrick Perkins just picked up his fifth personal foul. He remains in the game.
On a semi-related note, where the heck is Kevin Garnett? Eight points and 6 rebounds in over 30 minutes? Not the usual game we see from KG.
Inside the box (6:44 fourth quarter, Celtics 78-70)
Interesting to see the rotations here in the first game of the season. Eddie House, Glen Davis, and Tony Allen have all played a little more than 15 minutes. Leon Powe has played close to 20. Brian Scalabrine, Gabe Pruitt, and Patrick O'Bryant have not cracked the rotation. The two rookies (Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens), along with Sam Cassell, are inactive.
TA stepping up (9:33 fourth quarter, Celtics 74-68)
Tony Allen made a running jumper and completed a three-point play, then made another runner (but missed the free throw) to give the Celtics some unexpected offense here in the fourth quarter.
Sasha getting testy (10:46 fourth quarter, Celtics 69-65)
Sasha Pavlovic drew a foul on Paul Pierce and then had something to say to Pierce after the play. Replays showed Pierce really didn't touch Pavlovic, and it's surprising to see a player of Pavlovic's caliber taunting the Finals MVP when he's got 25 points.
Celtics looking assertive (END third quarter, Celtics 67-63)
The Celtics have turned things around here in the third quarter, reclaiming the lead on a couple of big plays by Paul Pierce. Pierce hit a three, then came down and knocked in another jumper on a step-back move to put the Celtics up, 64-63. It's a tough shot to stop for the captain, who has 25 points.
After shooting 40 percent in the first half, the Celtics were 8 of 15 in the third quarter. They also kept Cleveland off the line (that had to be a point of emphasis at halftime). Zero free throws for the Cavs in the third.
Bad call on LeBron (1:27 third quarter, Celtics 64-63)
LeBron James picked up his fourth personal foul on offensive rebounding action, but it looked like the foul should have been on Anderson Varejao.
Opportune timeout (2:52 third quarter, Cavs 63-59)
Just as quickly as they took the lead, the Celtics have given it up. Somebody woke up LeBron James, because he's taken it to the basket a couple of times of late, and the Celtics have no answer for that. It's the scariest sight in basketball, LeBron James driving the lane for the other team.
First lead for Boston (8:53 third quarter, Celtics 53-52)
The Celtics took their first lead of the game on a layup by Rajon Rondo.
Out of the gate (9:23 third quarter, Cavs 52-51)
The Celtics have come out with a lot more energy here in the second half. Amidst a dunk by Ben Wallace, Paul Pierce hit a three pointer, Ray Allen added another three, and Kendrick Perkins made a layup to cut the lead to one.
It's a little louder in here now.
Halftime (END second quarter, Cavs 50-43)
This probably isn't the start the Celtics wanted to their title defense. The Celtics played a lackluster first half and find themselves trailing by 7 at the break. Cleveland has been to the line far too many times (19 of 22), and the Celtics need to put an end to that if they have any hope of climbing back into this game. The good thing for the Celtics is that we haven't seen the real LeBron James yet. James has 10 points on 4 of 10 shooting. In other words, this isn't Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Paul Pierce, the most emotional Celtic during the ring ceremony, has been the most effective Celtic on the court. He's got 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
Z and Perk tangle (4:11 second quarter, Cavs 42-35)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Kendrick Perkins stared each other down and were called for technical fouls. It didn't escalate. Nothing to see here.
Here come the troops (6:10 second quarter, Cavs 37-28)
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo (2 fouls) back into the game. We'll see if this jump-starts the Boston offense.
Bogged down (7:51 second quarter, Cavs 36-28)
The benches are in for both teams, and the scoring is down (Celtics have 6 in the period, Cavs 4). Boston is lost right now without Paul Pierce on the floor. Lucky for them, Cleveland is a little lost too.
The Celtics are now just 12 for 30 from the field.
First quarter goes to Cleveland (END first quarter, Cavs 28-22)
They'll deny it after the game, but the emotions of the ring ceremony had to have some impact on the start for the Celtics tonight. And this is not the team they want to be playing if they're not on top of their game.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas has 7 points and LeBron James has 6. Cleveland is shooting 53 percent. The Celtics are shooting 43 percent.
First bench points (2:52 first quarter, Cavs 22-13)
Leon Powe just threw up a running fade/hook/prayer that found the bottom of the net and gave the Celtics their first bench points of the game. The Celtics have made only 6 of 17 shots, the biggest reason for their current deficit. They also need to keep Zydrunas Ilgauskas off the line. Big Z has made 5 of 6 free throws.
Take it to the hoop! (4:16 first quarter, Cavs 18-11)
Paul Pierce just completed a three-point play. It's the fifth basket of the game for the Celtics(Pierce has 4 dunks/lay-ups and Kevin Garnett has one). Boston has not made an outside shot.
Two fouls for Rondo (6:38 first quarter, Cavs 12-4)
Rajon Rondo was called for a charge to some boos from the fans. That's two quick fouls for Rondo, who was replaced by Eddie House. We'll see right away how the team functions without its only true point guard.
Early Cavs run (8:12 first quarter, Cavs 11-4)
Mo Williams added to a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer as Cleveland jumped out to an early lead.
Celts come out dunking (10:47 first quarter, Tied at 4)
Delonte West and LeBron James had 2 points apiece for the Cavs, but Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett answered with dunks on the other end for the Celtics.