Posted on February 11, 2018, by Travis Pulver
Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers were likely looking forward to Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics more than any other regular season game this year. It was the first time the team would put the rebooted version on the court. Would the trades that sent six guys elsewhere and brought some new talent to town do anything? Or would it be another disappointing day?
While the game got off to a promising start for the Cavaliers, it got off to a better one for the Celtics. After one-quarter of action, the Celtics were up by one, 32-32. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor and made it look like this could turn into a shootout.
But then Boston’s offense disappeared while LeBron James shook off a first-quarter injury to help the Cavs take over the game. By the time the half came to an end, the Celtics had lost their one-point lead and were down by 12, 64-52.
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While a 12-point deficit is not good, the Cavs have given up bigger leads in the second half in recent weeks. The Celtics are talented enough to do it, but only if they play up to their potential. They’ve come out strong in the second half a lot in recent games—why not this one?
Fans probably hoped for a big, dramatic third-quarter comeback. But instead, what they got was a lesson in humility. The Cavs could do little wrong on offense while the Celtics could do little right. With about two minutes to go, Cleveland got the lead up to 25 points, 92-67. When the third quarter mercifully came to an end, it was down to 21 points, 95-74.
With the game well in hand, the Cavalier coasted through the fourth while both teams played their benches for most of it. Celtics guard Terry Rozier hit a three-pointer with 18.3 seconds left to close out the scoring with the final score, 121-99, Cleveland.
Cleveland’s new guys left fans with a pretty good first impression. Jordan Clarkson scored 17, Rodney Hood had 15, and Greg Hill (who started) had 12 points. Larry Nance Jr. didn’t do too bad with five points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
“They were phenomenal,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said after the game (Cleveland.com). “They played hard, and they competed, and it was just good to see the team smiling again and having fun.”
Of course, the big question going forward will be can they do it on a regular basis and not just against a team trying to battle its way out of a slump like the Celtics.
LeBron James, who led the way for the Cavalier with 24 points, ten assists, and eight rebounds, was happy with what he saw (Cleveland.com):
“It was a good start. It’s almost like the new guys have been here,” James said. “It was a good start for the new guys, a good start for all of us with our revamped team.”
The next chance to see the new look Cavs in action will come Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
The Celtics would have loved to have gotten the win, not just because they don’t like to lose but because it was also Paul Pierce Day. The Celtics were retiring his jersey after the game, and it would have made for a much better celebration. But the loss didn’t stop fans from showering Pierce with “Thank you Paul Pierce” chants anyway.
Boston will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard when they take on the Los Clippers in Boston on Valentine’s Day.