Celtics Start Quest for Banner 18 Tonight

[image] at [image]
Boston Celtics (0-0) at Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Tuesday, October 27
7:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #1, Away Game #1

Referee Assigments:   Steve Javie, Tony Brothers, Derek Richardson
Quicken Loans Arena


Opening night is finally here!   The regular refs are in place.  Both teams are raring to go and what better way to open the season than to face your chief rival for the Eastern Conference.  Although the Cavs have said that they don't have any animosity toward the Celtics, we all know how chippy these games get.  You don't celebrate with dances and antics on the sideline like LeBron and the Cavs did last season when it's just another game. 

Both teams will be looking to make a statement in this game as they try to stake their claim as the team to beat in the East. The Celtics beat the Cavs in the final preseason game, but that really doesn't indicate how this game will go as neither team ran their regular sets and KG and Ray didn't even play.   The Cavs did play their starting lineup, but it was the first time that lineup had taken the floor together in the preseason.  

The Cavs are still trying to find their chemistry and the newer players are still learning the plays.  It was said that Shaq didn't have time in the offseason to look over the plays because he was busy with his reality show (that he stole from Steve Nash).  . Injuries and the flu kept the team from putting their starting lineup on the floor together until the final game of the preseason. With 2 new players in the starting lineup, they may have some growing pains to start the season.  Another distraction for the Cavs has been Delonte West's situation.  His status for opening night was still in question as of yesterday after an altercation with his wife at the airport made headlines all over the net.

The Celtics also have to shuffle things with the loss of Glen Davis yesterday from an injury suffered off the court.  Big Baby looked to be the second big off the bench and would have gotten around 15-20 minutes.  Now, those minutes will have to be split between Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams.   It is up to Shelden to make the most of this opportunity.  It definitely affects the Celtics in this game as they have to change their rotation at the last minute. 

The Celtics will be looking for their first win in Cleveland since 2004. For some reason, they just haven't been able to get a win there, even in their 2008 championship season.   I'm sure the Celtics remember their last visit to the Q when LeBron and the Cavs danced and cavorted and basically taunted them on the sidelines while the Cavs blew out a depleted Celtics team.  

Bottom line, this game is an important one for both teams.   We are going to see both teams play hard and possibly even some more fireworks between the players.   Both teams want the upper hand in this rivalry and a win tonight will go a long way toward establishing that.  

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
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Rajon Rondo vs Mo Williams

Shooting Guard
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Ray Allen vs Anthony Parker

Small Forward
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Paul Pierce vs LeBron James

Power Forward
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Kevin Garnett vs Anderson Varejao

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Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal

[image] Reserves
Rasheed Wallace
Marquis Daniels
Eddie House
Shelden Williams
Lester Hudson
JR Giddens

Tony Allen (ankle) out
Bill Walker (knee) out
Brian Scalabrine (ankle) out 
Big Baby Davis   (thumb)  out 

[image] Reserves
Daniel Gibson
Daniel Green
JJ Hickson
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Darnell Jackson
Coby Karl
Jamario Moon
Jawad Williams

Delonte West (personal) day to day
Leon Powe (knee) out

Key Matchups
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This is one of the premiere matchups in the league. Playing LeBron seems to bring out the best in Pierce and he covers LeBron about as well as anyone in the league. This matchup is always entertaining and should continue to be so in this game.

[image] vs[image]
This is it! The first real game for KG since he went down last season. He is ready to go and although his minutes may still be limited, expect KG to go all out in this game when he is finally unleashed.

Honorable Mention
Kendrick Perkins vs Shaquille O'Neal
Perk is one of the few players in the league who has been able to stand his ground vs Shaq. Now that he lost weight over the summer, he is more mobile and can outrun Shaq up the floor, but it may hinder his ability to muscle Shaq inside.

Team Connections
Leon Powe and Delonte West are former Celtics
West was drafted by the Celtics with the 24th overall pick in the 2004 Draft
Powe played for the Celtics from 2006-09
Paul Pierce and Darnell Jackson are former KansasJayhawks
Daniel Green, Jawad Williams and Rasheed Wallace are former North Carolina Tar Heels
Shaquille O’Neal and Glen Davis both attended Louisiana State.

Keys to the Game
1 Defense, Defense, Defense -Defense wins games and it wins championships. We have heard enough talk about how this team wants to be the best defensive team ever and this is the time to begin proving that it's not all talk.
2. Take care of the basketball - Last season, one of the problems that they had was too many turnovers. This team has to take better care of the ball and not give away possessions.
3. Move the ball and find the open man- The passes and ball movement in the preseason was very good and fun to watch. Hopefully they will continue to move the ball as the regular season gets underway.
4. Team first - There are a few players on the Celtics who are going to be looking for a contract next year. Reports are that ubuntu got lost last season as some players were playing for themselves rather than the team. This team can be something very special if they remember ubuntu and all play toward the one goal of another championship.