Even though they are an aging team, the Celtics’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night was a sign of maturity. After a slow first quarter which Paul Pierce picked up two early fouls, the Celtics took care of business, building a lead, holding it and adding to it late in the game.
Cleveland never made a serious run and that allowed Doc Rivers to limit the minutes of Pierce and Ray Allen (22+ minutes apiece) while Kevin Garnett played 29. The Celtics are in a middle of a four-game stretch in less than six days and need their veterans, especially Friday against Chicago.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott said before the game he was content of allow Rajon Rondo to shoot, but he didn’t mean layups. Ten of his 17 shots came at point-blank range and Rondo converted 11 of them for 23 points and 12 assists.
“I told him early on that he was attacking too much with the dribble and I thought he did a much better job when he came back in the game and in the second half,” coach Doc Rivers said. “The ball moved and came back to him, then he was attacking.”
The game was won by Rondo and the bench. Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels combined for 33 points on 14-for-24 shooting while Nate Robinson added eight. The Celtics defense responded to limit the Cavaliers to jump shots, although they can’t be pleased with allowing 10 offensive rebounds, seven of those by Anderson Varejao. But unlike the previous meeting on Oct. 27, the Celtics didn’t allow those jump shooters to get open looks.
The Cavaliers were 5-for-15 from the 3-point line while the trio of Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison and Jamario Moon were a combined 7-for-26. When the Cavaliers are playing well, their veteran perimeter players are making shots. That wasn’t the case Tuesday.