Coming off a 12-0 fourth quarter comeback run to beat the Boston Celtics two days ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers once again tackled a steep fourth quarter comeback Tuesday night in Cleveland. Down as much as 22 points in the game and 18 points going into the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers cut the Celtic lead down to two with 1:18 left, but couldn't make shots at the end, and Kevin Garnett hit a turnaround with a minute left to lift the Celtics to a 93-90 win.
The Cavs came on strong in the fourth quarter by speeding up the pace of their offense and scoring better in transition, before Boston's defense could set up shop.This aggressive approach plus using rookie Kyrie Irving as an off-guard down in the final quarter, where he scored 13 points, helped to make things interesting. Cleveland shot 60 percent in the fourth quarter, slicing the previously large lead down to give them the chance to win.
Ray Allen was all over the place for Boston, playing the role of penetrator and playmaker in point guard Rajon Rondo's continued absence. Allen bolted down the lane on a number of possessions and flip a pass over his shoulder to a waiting Celtic jump shooter. Allen finished with only 10 shot attempts (12 points) and eight assists to lead the team.
The Celtics were very democratic with their shot distribution, with no Boston player having more than 14 shot attempts (Paul Pierce), and seven players with seven or more shot attempts. Pierce led Boston with 20 points (seven in the fourth quarter) and had six assists while Brandon Bass pitched in 13, including two late buckets and a 6-9 shooting night.
Irving continued to show his scoring prowess against Boston, leading Cleveland with 21 points overall and proving hard for even the energetic Avery Bradley to defend. Also, Anderson Varejao had 20 points and 20 rebounds for Cleveland in the loss, his first ever 20-20 game and the fourth player to do it this season. The 20 rebounds are a career high and the previous closest he came was a 16-point, 18-rebound game in 2008.
Deja vu isn't any fun when you are experiencing a nightmare all over again. The Celtics once again held a large lead in through 3 quarters and once again let the Cavs go on a huge run in the 4th quarter. They played passively and let Cleveland be the aggressors. This time, however, they had enough of a cushion (20 points at one point) that they were able to hang on by the skin of their teeth for the victory. Let's not do this again real soon, shall we?
For the Cleveland side of the story, check out Fear the Sword.