The Boston Celtics opened their season with a 95-89 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that lost only two games all year at home last season. Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back in nearly six months while Paul Pierce came up big with two huge jumpers in the final minute, 23 points in total, to spoil the long awaited debut of Shaq in a Cavs uniform. Lebron James posted 38 points, but it wasn't enough to stop a determined Celtics team.
The Cavs jumped to an early 19-5 lead against a Celtics team that looked jittery and outmatched at the start of the game. The Celtics seemed over excited, causing them to miss easy shots and miss assignments on defense. However, they settled down quickly and took over the game, going on a 17-2 run at one point in the second quarter. The Celtics bench, a somewhat weak spot on last year's team, came up big when they were called upon. Newly acquired Rasheed Wallace posted 12 points and 10 rebonds, shooting 3 for 6 from beyond the arc. Also, Marquis Daniels posted 7 points in 18 minutes of play, showing great hustle and energy on the floor.
Ray Allen played as his usual self, hitting jump shots and three pointers when counted on to hold the Celtics' momentum. Allen ended the game with 16 points. As for KG, he looked a little too excited at the start of the game. He even said after the game that his excitement got the best of him because it had been so long since he played a game. However, when he settled down, he became the KG of old, barking orders as the defensive floor leader and hitting perimeter jump shots. At one point, the Celtics prevented the Cavs from hitting a field goal for over five of the last seven minutes of the game when they desperately needed to make a run if they had any chance of winning.
As for Rajon Rondo, he played like a man possessed, throwing around his body with reckless abandon and contesting the likes of Shaq and Anderson Varejao for rebounds. Before the game, ESPN Boston reported that Rondo broke off negotiations for a contract extension with the Celtics, but that both sides are still trying to work out a deal. The Celtics reportedly offered a five year, $45 million deal while Rondo is seeking a five year deal in the $55-$60 million range. If an agreement is not reached before Saturday, Rondo will become a restricted free agent this offseason. Some teams with cap room and a need for a young PG such as the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and the Phoenix Suns could offer a contract that the Celtics would have a hard time matching. With the way Rondo has looked in the preseason and in tonight's game, it is imperative for the Celtics to lock up their young star PG.
Enough about contract talks though. The Celtics should savor their win tonight against a heated Eastern Conference rival. This is a great way to start off the 09-10 season and a good stepping stone to establishing dominance in the East once again.
Thanks to Keith Allison for the great photo of Rajon Rondo.