You could feel the tension at the TD Garden. The Celtics led by 11 points but watched their lead slip away. The Cavaliers out hustled and out-everything'd Boston in the final minutes of this game, culminating in an exhilarating comeback victory. Anderson Varejao fought tirelessly for a crucial offensive rebound and set the stage for Kyrie Irving to have his best moment as a professional thus far. With 22 seconds left in the game, Irving dribbled at the top of key until there was about 7 seconds left, then went to work. Kyrie drove to his right, spun down the lane, hung in the air, and finished with the lefty layup. It gave the Cavs the 88-87 lead and ultimately the win when Paul Pierce missed the following jumper.
Kyrie Irving - Rookie of the Year; that's all I have to say.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Irving, 23; Rebounds: Varejao, 9; Assists: Irving, 6
When Byron Scott was asked about putting the ball in the hands of a 19-year-old rookie point guard with the game on the line, he gave the perfect answer:
"At that particular time I wasn't thinking about the age. I was just thinking about how pretty damn good he is with the ball in his hands."
Yeah, well that worked out pretty well, coach.
Ray Allen was a stud for the Celtics in his return from an injured ankle. Allen scored 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting. He was basically automatic from three and his jumpshot was as beautiful as ever. Paul Pierce struggled pretty badly, but Allen picked up a lot of the slack. Jesus Shuttlesworth looked like the best player on Boston's roster right now.
I'm really interested in what the Celtics decide to do going forward. As some of you may know, I live in Boston and am an intern at NESN. While many Boston fans are preoccupied with the New England Patriots Super Bowl run, the Celtics are creating a tricky situation for themselves. Are they going to stick with their veterans and try to make a final run in the playoffs? Are they going to blow it up and try to get a head start on rebuilding? I can honestly say I don't know what they should do. Once Rajon Rondo gets back, they will probably have a better idea of what their squad looks like and then you can make a decision at that point. The slow start for the Celtics does seem to have had a negative effect on the attendance at the TD Garden. Normally, when I went to a Celtics game, it would be packed. Now that the C's are struggling a bit, however, it wasn't nearly as full or as lively as it has been in recent years.
He's obviously been overshadow by Kyrie Irving's spectacular performance early on, but Ramon Sessions has struggled in the back-up point guard role. He put out another weak shooting performance of 3 for 10 tonight and has a FG% hovering in the mid 30s. Hopefully he gets his act together soon and doesn't drag down his trade value too much.
Antawn Jamison gave us a really really crappy performance tonight. I was honored to see it in person. 3 for 13 from the field for just 10 points and 3 rebounds. That is not the kind of showing that will get him traded and bring us back any sort of valuable asset.
Alonzo Gee is going to be in this portion of the recap pretty much every night we play a team with a go-to wing scorer. He did a solid job hassling Pierce, who had 7 turnovers tonight. Gee had 4 steals and, oh yeah, his nightly ridiculous dunk. (If anyone finds the video for the baseline reverse slam, let me know and I'll put it up.)
Anderson Varejao barely misses the cut for POTG once again. He's consistently the second best player on the floor and had the second biggest play of the night. After the Cavs missed a shot late in their 4th quarter comeback attempt, Varejao fought Brandon Bass for the crucial offensive rebound, dove on the ball, and called the timeout to give the Cavs another possession. Along with his usual rebounding numbers (9 total, 3 offensive), Andy was quite efficient scoring the ball. He had 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting and he and Irving combined to score 10 of the Cavaliers' final 12 points.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
At the risk of sounding like a biased homer, should we start talking about Kyrie for Rookie of the Year or for a spot in Orlando at the All Star Game? It may seem ridiculous that a rookie who has played just 19 games at the professional level could make the ASG, but I think he has a legitimate case. After Derrick Rose, the guards in the Eastern Conference are kind of a mess. Rajon Rondo is hurt and doesn't have a stable timetable for his return. Deron Williams hasn't played up to his normal level, although he has improved recently. After those three, I think the door is pretty open for Kyrie. He poured in another 23 points and 6 assists on a ridiculously efficient 10 of 14 shooting. His percentages are phenomenal and he stepped up big in the clutch when his team needed him the most. If that's not an all-star, then I'm not sure what is.
Feel free to watch this video a couple hundred times.