Celtics Come Undone in Second Half Against Cavaliers, Fall to 1-1

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Celtics Come Undone in Second Half Against Cavaliers, Fall to 1-1Final: Cavaliers 95, Celtics 87. It doesn't make much sense, does it? Somehow, the Celtics have beaten the Miami Heat with LeBron James, but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers without him.

J.J. Hickson leads the way for Cleveland with 21 points and six rebounds, headlining a group of six Cavaliers in double figures. The Celtics led for most of the night, but a late charge from Hickson, Antawn Jamison and Ramon Sessions was enough to bury the C's on the tail end of their season-opening back-to-back.

Rajon Rondo finishes with 18 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals for the Celtics, but the supporting cast around him is sluggish and fatigued after Tuesday's Miami opener. The C's still have a lot of work ahead before they can reach midseason form.

The C's next take the court Friday night, squaring off with the New York Knicks at the TD Garden.

Fourth quarter, 17.2 seconds, Cavs 93-87: Huge play from Rajon Rondo to charge coast-to-coast and draw a foul in the lane, but he misses one of the two free throws, and Anthony Parker corrals the rebound. Game over, it would appear.

Fourth quarter, 24.4 seconds, Cavs 89-86: First Glen Davis takes the big foul; then he commits it. A loose-ball call against Big Baby gives Anderson Varejao two shots to ice the Cavs' win.

Fourth quarter, 35.6 seconds, Cavs 89-86: Glen Davis comes up with a huge defensive play, taking a charge from J.J. Hickson and giving the Celtics one more shot at getting back in this game.

Will they try Ray again? He's overdue for a big shot in this one.

Fourth quarter, 55.6 seconds, Cavs 89-86: Ray Allen just missed a corner 3 with a chance to tie the game. Now the C's need yet another stop…

Fourth quarter, 1:32, Cavs 89-84: The Celtics are running out of time now. They need a basket and a stop, quick.

It's been a long two days for the Celtics, but they need to muster 92 more seconds of maximum effort.

Fourth quarter, 2:19, Cavs 89-84: Anthony Parker beats the shot-clock buzzer with a huge 3. The Cavs are really in the driver's seat now.

Fourth quarter, 2:51, Cavs 86-84: A rare turnover from Rondo swings momentum back in the Cavs' favor. The Cavaliers have called a timeout to quickly regroup.

Cleveland now has the lead and the ball with under three minutes to play. This is more than just a scare — the Cavs look poised to win this thing.

Fourth quarter, 4:38, Celtics 84-82: Paul Pierce hits the midrange jumper. He'd better step up and hit a couple more of those if the Celtics want to stay on top.

The Cavs are trying to win this game with energy and quick bursts of speedy offense. The C's are hoping that poise, skill and shot-making can get the job done for them.

It's an intriguing clash of styles.

Fourth quarter, 6:10, 82-82: You've got to love Glen Davis' instincts as a low-post scorer. Every time he sees a defensive lapse in the Cavaliers' front line, he pounces and gets a bucket down low.

Baby's got to be big down the stretch. The rest of the Celtics look stagnant offensively.

Fourth quarter, 7:08, Cavs 82-79: The Cavaliers have suddenly exploded for an 8-2 run, streaking into the lane and getting buckets on pure hustle and energy.

Kevin Garnett checks back in for Boston. Great timing. The C's need his intensity on the defensive end.

Fourth quarter, 9:09, Celtics 77-74: Jermaine O'Neal has fouled out, completing a very unimpressive second game in Celtic green. His final line: 12 minutes, two points, two rebounds, three turnovers, and of course the six fouls. Oof.

The C's will look to the other O'Neal to carry the load in the fourth quarter. Time for Shaq to shine against his former team.

Fourth quarter, 11:11, Celtics 75-72: Doc Rivers is taking a look at Von Wafer for the first time in this regular season.

This is Wafer's chance to establish himself — with Delonte West suspended these first 10 games, he should see a few minutes here and there.

In Houston, Wafer was an effective bench scorer in the late minutes, giving the Rockets an offensive jolt when they needed it. Can he fill that same role in Boston?

End of third quarter, Celtics 73-68: Daniel Gibson is just 2-of-11 for the Cavaliers off the bench. But he hits a big shot here, an off-balance jumper on Cleveland's final possession of the third quarter. The Celtics lead by only five.

J.J. Hickson now has 19 points at the break for the Cavaliers; Rajon Rondo has 17 for Boston. Which one will bring more energy to these final 12 minutes? That might decide the game.

Third quarter, 2:52, Celtics 68-62: Two reasons the Cavs aren't about to die quietly: Anderson Varejao and J.J. Hickson.

The Cavs' two bigs have poured in seven points in the last five minutes. They're both tough covers without KG and Shaq on the floor. Who does Glen Davis guard? He's too short for Varejao and too slow for Hickson.

The Cavs are hoping to ride their matchup advantages back into this game. They've still got some work to do.

Third quarter, 5:12, Celtics 64-55: The Celtics once again have a nine-point lead, as Rajon Rondo turns a Cleveland turnover into yet another fast-break basket. Rondo now has a game-high 17 points.

The C's look ready to pull away. J.J. Hickson will have to carry the Cavs on his back if they want a victory in their season opener.

Third quarter, 7:19, Celtics 58-53: Kevin Garnett is on the verge of back-to-back double-doubles to start the season. He had 10 and 10 against the Heat on Tuesday night, and he's now looking at a nine-point, 11-rebound stat line against the Cavaliers.

KG's rebounding may emerge as an underrated factor in the Celtics' resurgence this season. If he's playing airtight D and crashing the boards like this, the C's will leave last year's win total of 50 in the dust.

Third quarter, 9:09, Celtics 55-48: Byron Scott needs a timeout now. His Cavs are in danger of coming undone here in the third quarter.

Boston's now on a 15-2 run, dating back to the end of the second quarter. Hickson and Sessions appear to have run out of gas. The Cavs' offense desperately needs refueling.

Third quarter, 11:06, Celtics 49-48: Both teams find their low-post weapons early in the third quarter. Shaquille O'Neal and Anderson Varejao trade buckets to open.

Whichever team starts settling for jump shots first will probably lose this one.

It's tough to bet on the Celtics on the tail end of a back-to-back. Let's see how much they want this one.

Halftime, Celtics 47-46: Who needs LeBron James? The Cavaliers are putting up a heroic fight without him against the defending Eastern Conference champions.

It takes a late free throw from Kevin Garnett to give the Celtics a flimsy one-point lead at the break. The C's are having a much tougher time with the post-"Decision" Cavaliers than they did with the hyped Heat.

J.J. Hickson and Ramon Sessions are the Cavs' two go-to scorers so far, kicking in 14 and 12 points respectively. Anderson Varejao adds seven rebounds and Anthony Parker, four assists.

The Celtics are led by an all-around stellar first half from Rajon Rondo: nine points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals. KG also has nine points, and Glen Davis has added eight off the bench.

Second quarter, 2:30, Cavs 44-42: Most of the Celtics' starters look fatigued on the tail end of a back-to-back. There's one exception. Take a wild guess.

Rajon Rondo has been a barrel of energy as usual in this second quarter, leaping over bigger guys and getting rebounds he has no business getting. Rondo now has nine points, four assists, two boards and two steals for the Celtics.

Unfortunately for the C's, the rest of them are just too small and too slow to keep up with the Cavs right now. Ramon Sessions and Jamario Moon have each found their scoring touch in the second quarter, and the Cavs are starting to look hungry for an upset on their opening night. The C's are in trouble.

Second quarter, 3:57, 39-39: Now both O'Neals are in foul trouble, as Shaquille picks up his third. Welcome back, Glen Davis. Stick around a while.

For Doc Rivers, it's probably for the best. We're going to see this lineup a lot, perhaps even as a crunch-time unit, with Big Baby playing center. He's undersized, but he brings the energy and the post scoring ability the C's need.

Might as well take a long look at the small unit. Doc's got his chance now.

Second quarter, 5:50, Celtics 32-31: Here's a scary question for Byron Scott: What if J.J. Hickson and Antawn Jamison are the two best players he has? Is it possible to play them together?

They're both pure power forwards. Hickson is too undersized to play the five, and Jamison is too old and slow to defend opposing threes. There doesn't seem to be a way to make it work.

But between the two power forwards, Scott has a pair of skilled scorers and rebounders. Together, they could lead the Cavs to a decent season — if only they could coexist.

The one positive with these new-look Cavs, though, continues to be the play of J.J. Hickson. The third-year power forward now has a game-high 14 points for Cleveland.

Second quarter, 9:28, Celtics 28-23: Encouraging stat for the Celtics in this game: They're shooting 12-of-17 from the field so far, for an eye-popping 70.6 percent. Not-so-encouraging stat: Jermaine O'Neal has three fouls in five minutes. Looks like the C's will be one big man short until halftime.

It's been a slow October for J.O. so far. Once he gets healthy and gets himself acclimated in Celtic green, he'll be better. But it's a slow process.

Second quarter, 11:44, Celtics 23-21: Nix that Big Baby 3-pointer — it came just barely after the buzzer, the officials determine after a review. The C's lead by just two.

End of first quarter, Celtics 26-21: So far we've seen 12 minutes of the Cleveland Cavaliers sans LeBron James, and so far, they're giving the Celtics a fair fight.

J.J. Hickson has stepped up to fill LeBron's scoring void, pouring in 10 points to lead the way for the Cavaliers, who trail by five. The big star of the first quarter for Boston? Rajon Rondo, who leads the way with nine points and two steals.

Glen Davis beats the buzzer with a 3, padding the Celtics' slight lead. Who knew he could shoot like that?

First quarter, 3:42, Celtics 17-16: Rajon Rondo has always been self-effacing about his jump-shooting. Whenever he's asked if he's been working on it, he laughs the question off. But when the shot clock winds down and Rondo has to put one up, he's got a nice stroke.

Rondo knocks down a desperation 3 to put the Celtics into the lead. He's 2-for-2 from the field.

First quarter, 5:26, Cavs 14-13: We're playing "dueling power forwards." J.J. Hickson is now 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points; KG has six on a perfect 3-of-3 clip.

Hickson is a tough matchup for these Celtics. He's energetic, he's long, and he can put the ball in the hole.

He's not LeBron, but he's going to be a big-time player for the Cavs this season.

First quarter, 7:49, Cavs 10-7: Maybe Kevin Garnett is still exhausted from completely owning Chris Bosh not 24 hours ago. For whatever reason, J.J. Hickson is eating him alive.

Hickson is 2-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, so he's got six points.

If Doc Rivers wants to match energy with energy, he's got Glen Davis waiting on the bench.

First quarter, 10:04, Celtics 5-4: Anderson Varejao brings high energy and high IQ to the Cavs' post defense. But against Shaq, he just looks overpowered.

Shaq has three points early — first an easy layup, then he draws contact from Varejao and gets to the line, making one of two.

The Diesel had a great matchup in the opener against Miami's Joel Anthony. Now he looks to be outplaying Varejao as well — with the obvious caveat, it's still early.

First quarter, 11:41, Cavs 2-0: Shaquille O'Neal loses the opening tip against his former team, and the Cavs get first crack at the Boston defense. The athletic J.J. Hickson gets into the paint on the Cavs' first possession, finding an open driving lane and getting to the line for two.

The Cavs have their first lead of the post-LeBron era.

7:05 p.m.: Big question to watch with these Celtics in game two: How will Doc Rivers dole out minutes among his nine-man rotation?

The Celtics played a taxing, emotional season opener against the Heat on Tuesday night. This is the tail end of a back-to-back, and the C's are on the road against a largely young, up-tempo team.

Doc has to be careful about overusing his veteran core. It's a long season ahead, and you never want to overextend early.

6:20 p.m.: It's official — no Mo Williams tonight in the Cavs' starting five. Ramon Sessions will get the start at the point for Cleveland, and he draws a daunting matchup in Rajon Rondo.

Between Sessions, J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao, this is a young and energetic starting lineup. The Cavs might not have King James, but they have plenty of athletes.

The C's had better not overlook Cleveland.

5 p.m.: Another added wrinkle for the Cavaliers this season: Could they encounter chemistry problems from day one?

Byron Scott has made the controversial decision to start J.J. Hickson at power forward over the two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison, and apparently Jamison isn't thrilled about it.

Why would he be? With LeBron out of the picture, you could definitely make the case that Jamison is the most talented Cavalier left. Going in another direction and starting Hickson is a sign that the Cavs are heading for a rebuilding phase, and that's never a good sign for a rusting 34-year-old with two years left on his contract.

This could be really troubling, both for Jamison and the Cavs as a whole.

3 p.m.: Looks like the Cavs have more problems than just losing LeBron. Now there are doubts about whether Mo Williams can go in the opener.

Cavs coach Byron Scott has said that Williams is "still questionable" due to nagging groin injuries that have dogged him this preseason. If Williams can't go, it'll be Ramon Sessions instead.

Not a bad tradeoff for Cleveland — Sessions is a dynamic young point guard who thrives with the ball in his hands. Scott could do a lot worse.

8 a.m.: Five months ago, the Celtics were able to earn an Eastern Conference finals berth by overcoming a Cleveland Cavaliers team loaded with such talents as Shaquille O'Neal, Delonte West and one LeBron Raymone James.

This year, the Cavs will look a little different. Shaq and West have left Cleveland for Beantown, and LeBron of course took his talents to South Beach. But the show must go on at Quicken Loans Arena, and the Cavs open their season on Wednesday night against the same Celtics team that eliminated them back in May.

For the first time in seven years, LeBron won't be in the building when the Cavs tip off their opening night. But Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao will be there to keep the Cavs afloat in their time of turmoil.

The Celtics will get the first crack at the post-Decision Cavaliers.

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