After showing the new Miami Heat trio that it won’t be easy "being three" in the Garden on Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics lapsed back into mediocrity against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Old habits surfaced as Cleveland's athletic front line pounded them on the glass.
Andersen Varejao, Ryan Hollins and a bunch of assorted parts out hustled the Celtics on both ends of the floor. For a team that prides itself on defense when all else fails that was a serious offense.
The Celtics just couldn’t buy a shot last night. Rubbery arms and legs prevailed as they short-armed makeable shots at the rim. Turnovers, fourth quarter technicals (a doc Rivers no-no), a surprising lack of a low post game and wanting to play "hero-ball" ultimately doomed them.
J.J.Hickson, the third-year man that LeBron James lobbied for in last year’s playoffs, beat the Celtics with his quickness and jump shot. Boston had no answer for him.
The "Big Three" showed their fragile nature as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett failed to score over 16 points. This was a far cry from the trios output in the season opener. The only players that were able to pull through the malaise were Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo.
Davis is averaging 13 ppg through the first two games and Rondo managed a more balanced game and has been the best player on the floor by far. Rondo's play suggests that he has come back with a more focused mentality.
Big Baby Davis seems to finally get it. He managed to survive the night before the season opener without any incident and he has been making the most of his time on the court.
The other core players have been inconsistent at best. Last night's game showed the team has to battle the boredom of playing less talented teams. This is not to say that the Cavaliers didn't earn this win, after all, they had a lot to prove too.
Byron Scott did a masterful job in preparing them for life without LeBron. He is going to use the disrespect card throughout the season. Let us hope that the players don't realize how much they have to over achieve to gain respectability.
If the Celtics had a day off before they played them, the outcome would have been considerably different. Boston now finds itself having the same record as the Miami Heat and need to learn how to play through the more difficult road they will face in the East.
It is not time to panic and it may be best to toss this game because of the high profile and intense game they played the previous night. This is an excuse they can hang their hats on; however, the regular season does not afford you much rest in the midst of a championship chase.
Friday's game against the New York Knicks stands as a must-win, because the Miami Heat face the Orlando Magic that same night. If Miami wins and Boston loses, it will test the Celtics' resolve and ability to remain a top contender in the now vaunted Eastern Conference.