Cleveland Cavaliers (7-11) at Boston Celtics (9-9)
Time: 6:00 PM EST, Sunday, January 29th, 2012
Venue: TD Garden, Boston MA
Game #'s: Regular Season Game #19, Home Game #12
TV: CSN-NE, FSO, NBA-LP 751/752 Radio: WEEI, WTAM
Officials: Marc Davis, Eric Lewis, Scott Wall
The Line: Boston is on a four-game winning streak
depite missed games from starters Rondo, Ray Allen,
and Jermaine O'Neal.
Game Thread | Chat Room
I really hate the term 'must win'. When you consider a team like the Celtics, who (dare I begin to hope again? No..I've been hurt before) have always said that winning the NBA Finals was the only victory that matters, and the only measure to which they decided a season is a success or failure, there is a necessity of perspective. Since (to these guys) the regular season is basically jockeying for seeding in the playoffs, and a glorified extended training camp, either there are no 'must win' games during the regular season, or they're all 'must win' games.
However, not to strike an equine creature bereft of life, but I have always believed that a good team is not necessarily measured during the regular season by its ability to beat other teams that are as good as they are. Truth be told, during the regular season there are just too many variables out there, from effort and motivation game in, game out, to health of the players in question. In the playoffs, if you're walking, generally you're playing, and everyone wants a win bad. That's not an issue in the playoffs. But during the regular season, its much more a potluck of effort and health that defines a win against two teams that are peers.No, the real measure of a 'good' team is its ability to consistently beat teams that are unequivocally 'worse' than they are.
The reason being, is that its those wins that act as a buffer when playoff seeding comes around. Its those wins that ensure there are no 'must win' games, because there is a steady, sizeable mountains of games you won that you 'should've won' to keep you from having a 'must win' game later.
So in a way, tonight is a 'must win' game. While the Cavaliers were somewhat hot early on in the season (there was a time when they were a few games up on the C's. I like to call those 'the dark times'), they've tapered off significantly in recent games, and just got done dropping a close one to the New Jersey Nyets. Their best player is a rookie who has been, while a pleasant surprise as a rookie, still a below-average starting point guard.
And the Celtics haven't done themselves too many favors in terms of assembling their pile of wins to guarantee playoff placement. In years past, they've always stormed out of the gate and racked up nearly enough wins for a playoff berth by late January alone. This time, they're standing resolute but vulnerable at .500 through the first quarter of the season, and the schedule gets way worse as this shindig goes on. There will be 'dark times' again.
And that's why tonight is a 'must win'. The Celtics have to take games like this one tonight, because later on in the season, when nagging injuries have manifested for everyone from the starters to Danny AInge to the ballboys, they're going to need the pile of wins. Right now, the pile is pretty meager.
As always, starting lineups provided by FLCeltsFan!
Avery Bradley.......Ray Allen.......Paul Pierce.......Kevin Garnett...... Jermaine O'Neal
Ray Allen (ankle) probable
Jermaine O'Neal (knee) day to day
Keyon Dooling (hip) day to day
Rajon Rondo (wrist) day to day
Kyrie Irving.....Anthony Parker.....Omri Casspi....Antawn Jamison.....Anderson Varejao
Tristan Thompson, Daniel Gibson and Avery Bradley attended the University Texas
Sasha Pavlovic played for the Cavaliers for five seasons, 2004-2009
Semih Erden and Luke Harangody were both drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2008 and 2010 NBA Draft respectively and each spent part of the 2010-2011 season with the Celtics before being traded to the Cavaliers.