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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Game 19: Cavs at Celtics

at TD Garden
RADIO/TV: WTAM/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: This was one of the signature wins by the Cavs this season. It was the first time they've won against a team .500 or better this year.

The Cavs had lost five of the last six coming into Sunday's game. The Celtics had won five of six.

The Celtics led, 87-76 late in the game before the Cavs closed the game with 12 unanswered points. Kyrie Irving closed off that run with a layup in traffic with 2.6 seconds remaining. Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who has averaged 26 points in the previous three games, missed a last-second 17-footer at the buzzer.

Irving had a game-high 23 points, six assists, four rebounds and one steal. He made 10 of 14 attempts from the field.

He's now shooting 51.6 percent from the field - outstanding for a point guard. He's also shooting 40.1 percent from the 3-point line and 80.6 percent from the foul line. On the season, he's averaging 17.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He's got Rookie of the Year written all over him.

Talk of the Celtics being over the hill might be a bit premature. Sure, they are one of the oldest teams in the league. But they can still play, and play hard.

No team will want to face them in the first round of the playoffs. I guarantee that. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has some tough decisions ahead of him. Do they stick with "The Big Three" or break them up at the deadline?

If they think they have one more run in them, they might keep the veteran group together. If not, they could start trading off some of the pieces and trying to acquire younger players.

Celtics shooting guard Ray Allen (ankle) returned to the lineup on Sunday and had a team-high 22 points. He made 4 of 6 from behind the arc.

Point guard Rajon Rondo (wrist) and center Jermaine O’Neal (left knee) weren't as fortunate. Rondo hopes to play on Tuesday in Cleveland. He's missed the last seven games.

The Cavs played without shooting guard Daniel Gibson, who missed the game with a stiff neck. Shooting guard Anthony Parker missed most of the second half with tightness in his lower back. It's been bothering him for most of the season.

With those two sidelined, Coach Byron Scott turned to little-used shooting guard Mychel Thompson. He had four points, two rebounds and a steal. He played the entire fourth quarter. His play will warrant some playing time for the rookie.

The Cavs' athleticism caused problems for the Celtics. Center Anderson Varejao also was too much to handle for the Celtics' big men, as he finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and two steals. He is playing like an All-Star.

I scoffed at the thought of him making the All-Star team. I'm starting to believe that it could happen. I think he's deserving and playing as well as any center in the Eastern Conference, with the exception of Orlando's Dwight Howard.

And, as far as trading him? The Cavs would be totally nuts. 

UP NEXT: The Cavs will host Boston at 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Q.

SF Omri Casspi (6-9, 225) vs. Paul Pierce (6-7, 235)
PF Antawn Jamison (6-9, 235) vs. Kevin Garnett (6-11, 253)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 260) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
SG Anthony Parker (6-6, 210) vs. Ray Allen (6-5, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2,180)
Cavs – F Luke Harangody, G Daniel Gibson 
Celtics - G Keyon Dooling, G Rajon Rondo 
Marc Davis,  Eric Lewis,  Scott Wall


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