Tuesday, November 27
7:00 PM ET
TV: NBA TV & CSN
Quicken Loans Arena
The 11-1 Celtics will begin their journey tonight with a trip to "The Q" in Cleveland, to take on LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference Champions. The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t gotten off to as peachy a start as they had hoped. Before the players even hit the hardwood, distractions were brewed due to contract negotiations with both Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao. Terms were eventually worked out with Pavlovic, but relations are worsening by the day with Varejao, per reports. On top of that, Cleveland won just five of their first 11 games and the injury bug has bit the team hard this month.
All problems aside, there have been two big bright spots for the Cavs. The first one is 32-year-old center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has put up double-digit rebounding numbers in 11 of 14 games, and has held respectable averages of 14.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per contest. The other bright spot isn’t really a surprise, but you’re still "wowed" by his talents. LeBron James has gotten off to his best individual start to a season in his career, holding averages of 31.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game. Those numbers include two straight triple-doubles, and four this month. King James has made us all drop our jaws once or twice, but it looks as though the young phenom is making yet another big leap by re-tooling his jump shot and improving defensively.
With that said, LeBron is going to have to have the game of his life if he wants to get past the Boston Celtics this year – or even tonight. The Celtics are currently the best team in the NBA at 11-1, and are still leading the league in FG% and FG% defense. Cleveland may, however, come out with a little extra fire after the Celtics blew them out 114-89 on national TV in the preseason finale about a month ago. This should be an interesting battle, especially with both of these clubs being respected two of the best defensive teams in the Eastern Conference.
Will LeBron put up his third straight triple-double? Will Cleveland keep the winning streak alive? Will Boston keep rolling? Make sure you tune it to reveal these answers, this should be a good one.
C Kendrick Perkins / Zydrunas Ilgauskas
PF Kevin Garnett / Drew Gooden
SF Paul Pierce / LeBron James
SG Ray Allen / Sasha Pavlovic
PG Rajon Rondo / Daniel Gibson
Key Matchup: Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James
Do I really need to elaborate on this? Over the past few years, each Celtics/Cavs matchup has turned into nothing more or less than the "Pierce vs. LeBron show." The most memorable matchup was on February 15, 2006. The Celtics and Cavs went into double-overtime in the TD BankNorth Garden and the arena was sparked by the duel of the season. Pierce put up a career-high 50 points and James ended with 42 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, and the victory. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into a 1-on-1 showing, but it should be fun to watch these two perennial All-Stars go at it.
Celtics X-Factor: Centers
Sure, James Posey is key off the bench for defensive purposes on LeBron James, but Kendrick Perkins and even Scot Pollard will play a big role tonight as well. Zydrunas Ilgauskas has gotten off to a great start, as mentioned above, but I’m not concerned about the numbers he’s putting up. I’m concerned about his size – he’s humungous! Perk will need to stay out of foul trouble and Pollard will need to put a body on him for 8-10 serviceable minutes off the bench.
BOS – Ray Allen (rolled ankle – day-to-day)
BOS – Tony Allen (bruised left thigh – day-to-day)
CLE – Larry Hughes (bruised left leg)
CLE – Donyell Marshall (sprained right wrist)
CLE – Cedric Simmons (sprained ankle)
CLE – Demetris Nichols (back spasms)
Celtics Keys to the Game
- Don’t Let LeBron Dominate
- Limit Turnovers
- Consistent Ball Movement (48 minutes)
- Man Up On "Z"
- Better Shot Selection