Boston beat Cleveland 95-89 on October 27th: Opening Night. You’re forgiven if you don’t remember the last time these two teams played.
In an up and down season plagued by injuries and complacency, my memory of the opening night win against Cleveland has a foggy, dreamlike quality to it. Like it happened a lifetime ago.
After the opening night win against Cleveland, Boston seemed headed for another #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and a trip to the NBA Finals. Garnett was finally back healthy and Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels had joined the team. Despite adding Shaq, Cleveland and LeBron were still no match for a healthy Celtics team.
Fast forward to tonight: Kevin Garnett’s health is back in question; Rasheed Wallace can’t shoot, Marquis Daniels will likely miss the game with the flu; despite adding Shaq, Cleveland and LeBron have the best record in the NBA at 44-14.
A lot has changed, but Celtics fan still have reason to hope. Even with all the injuries and poor play, Boston is still ranked third in the East- 1.5 games behind Orlando, and 6.5 games behind Cleveland.
Cleveland will be hard to catch, but not impossible. Boston still has three games remaining against the Cavaliers. These three games will tell us a whole lot about the Celtics.
Has the window of opportunity shut? Can Boston beat Cleveland in a series? Is our defense still good enough to get stops when it counts? Is KG washed up? How much do toughness, moxie and experience really count for?
I’m looking forward to tonight’s game to get a head start on answering these and a host of questions I have about the Celtics.
Keys to the Game
- Will Paul Pierce play? Pierce has been bother with a thumb injury and flu-like symptoms. He is questionable for the game, but was seen shooting around in pregame, according to Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston.
- Who the hell is going to guard LeBron? If Pierce doesn’t play, along with Marquis Daniels who is unlikely to play (flu, also), Tony Allen will be our ONLY wing defender. Doc talked about putting Rondo on LeBron for stretches of the game. And he was serious. Let’s just say I’m a tad bit worried.