Cavs vs. Celtics, Game 59
at TD Banknorth Garden
WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs turned it up another notch after center Shaquille O'Neal went down with a "significant" thumb injury. He'll likely miss several games, but the Cavs aren't sure how many just yet.
The Celtics were scoring at will in the paint early on. The Celtics had 32 points in the paint in the first half, 14 in the second half.
So, with Shaq out of the lineup, the Cavs' interior defense got better.
J.J. Hickson came in and played well with eight points and four rebounds. Anderson Varejao was a monster inside with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
He was the best big man in the nationally televised game.
Shaq won't play against Toronto tonight. Varejao will start at center.
"In the second half, our level of aggressiveness stepped up on both ends of the floor," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "Andy gave us a big lift. JJ gave us a big lift. It was great to see Mo knock down shots like he normally does.
"Time after time, somebody came up with a big play. Our defensive intensity, focus and effort were tremendous. If someone got beat, there was someone there to cover for him. We were very physical without sending guys to the free-throw line."
The Celtics were unable to cope with the Cavs' athleticism inside with Varejao and Hickson.
"With shaq out, they couldn’t score inside – they got a lot of paint points in transition. Rondo did a nice job of dribble driving and scoring when our defense was not set."