Basketball season tipped off Tuesday night with a clash of two of the game’s best teams and one of its most heated rivalries in the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.
In a matchup of monumental proportions, MVP LeBron James and his newfound giant Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t defend the homeland against the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce-led Celtics, losing 95–89 despite a game high 35 points from LeBron. This was the first time the Celtics won at Cleveland since December 2004.
The Celtics were the better of the two teams going into the season opener with a 6–2 preseason record compared to the Cavs' 3–4 record. They also beat the Cavs by 14 in last week’s preseason game despite resting Garnett and Ray Allen—a sign of good things to come.
But the Cavs held the best record in the NBA last season (66–16) and made it farther than the Celtics in last year’s playoffs, being eliminated by Orlando 4–2 in the Eastern Conference Finals after Orlando came off a hard-fought 4–3 win against Boston in the semifinals.
Of course, it was remarkable that Boston even made it that far without team leader Kevin Garnett, who was out of the playoffs with a knee injury. Now with Garnett back and healthy, the Celtics have started off the season on the right foot, hoping to make it back to their 2008 championship title.
The Cavs owned the beginning of the game on both ends of the court, at one point outscoring the Celtics by 14 and forcing four turnovers in the beginning of the first quarter. Shaq opened flawlessly going 3 for 3 from the field while King James went 4 for 7 with a three-pointer and three blocked shots.
On the King’s third monster block against Celtics star point guard Rajon Rondo, the crowd cheered “MVP, MVP.” LeBron had a fourth block in the third quarter, which he chased with a three-pointer against Garnett.
The Celtics caught up to the Cavs near the end of the first quarter and went into the second quarter with a 19–9 scoring surge over the Cavs.
Near the middle of the second quarter the Celtics tied the score for the first time at 32 with a deep three-pointer from their new big man Rasheed Wallace. Wallace is a perfect addition to the team, which needed a solid player in the paint rather than a strong leader who the Celtics already have in Pierce and Garnett.
The Celtics took the lead for the first time with 4:44 to go in the second quarter with a three from team captain Pierce to bring the score to 39–38. The rest of the quarter was back-to-back scoring until the Celtics pulled away 51–45 at the end of the half, more than doubling the Cavs score in the second quarter alone.
The Celtics maintained their first half lead for the rest of the game, with near even scoring from both teams in the third and fourth quarters. The Celtics outperformed the Cavs in field goals, three pointers, free throws, and rebounds with .444, .474, and .846 percentages, respectively. Pierce had a team high of 23 points and Rondo had 10 assists.
Even though it was not the best first date for LeBron, Shaq, and the Cavs, this is still by far the most promising season for the team. When Shaq was traded to the Cavs from the Phoenix Suns in June, he stated flat out that his goal was to “win a ring for the King.”
Now after seven years with the Cavs and a host of awards—including the 2004 rookie of the year, 2008 scoring champion, 2009 MVP, and a 2008 Olympic gold—LeBron might get his wish for a ring. Michael Jordon won his first title with the Chicago Bulls in his seventh season, after all.