After an 88-80 win over the Heat, the Celtics appeared to be off to a hot start. With a big win over a powerful team, the Celtics should be able to take down the lowly, Lebron-less Cleveland Cavaliers, right?
The Celtics lost 95-87 to the Cavs in Cleveland, on the back of 21 points by J.J. Hickson. Cleveland had all but three players in double digits, as Boston struggled to find rhythm all night. Boston's largest lead of the game was nine in the middle of the third quarter, but they couldn't hold on as the Cavaliers left Quicken Loans Arena with a victory.
The Celtics were plagued by a lack of cohesiveness, with the key shots witnessed during opening night never materializing. The loss was sealed by a blown call on an inbounding pass by Cleveland. With 2:27 remaining in the game, the Cavaliers leading by two and the shot clock showing :01, Anthony Parker took the inbounds pass, dribbled twice, turned around, and sunk a 25-foot three-pointer to put Cleveland up by five. That's a lot to do in a second, isn't it? Yes, it is. The shot clock didn't restart until well after Parker touched the ball. The officials reviewed, but wouldn't reverse the call. Although this wasn't the sole cause of the Celtics' loss, it certainly sealed their fate.
So, do we have reason to worry?
Possibly. The starting lineup lacked chemistry at times, and the bench was very streaky outside of Glen Davis (with 14 points), and occasionally Nate Robinson (with eight points). Kevin Garnett once again had a quiet scoring night (with nine points), although he did manage to grab 15 rebounds. Rajon Rondo led the team with 18 points, but the rest of the starters failed to keep pace, with Paul Pierce grabbing 13, Ray Allen 12, and Shaquille O'Neal seven. After Garnett, rebounding was almost non-existent, with the other 23 rebound spread out over the rest of the team.
On the other hand, the Celtics were coming off a big, emotional game. The Cavs have a lot to prove this year, as they try to come out from under the shadow of LeBron James. The Celtics also had to travel and play the day after a big game, leaving them tired and trying to rebound. The Cavs are a younger team and were at home opening their season, so they had circumstance on their side. This may just have been a case of travel and physical and mental drain.
Personally, I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. The Celtics had some flaws that will need to be worked on, like chemistry and consistent, balanced offense, but also fell victim to the scheduling quirks, and will look to rebound against the Knicks back home after a day's rest. I will be in attendance on Friday, so I'll get an up-close look to see what changes they've made.
In the meantime, don't panic, just stay in a holding pattern until we see more.
GO GREEN 18!