Five from afar: New season, old habits

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
11:35
PM ET
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics guard Nate Robinson soars for a layup.
Five thoughts and observations after watching from afar as the Cleveland Cavaliers stunned the Boston Celtics, 95-87, Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena:

STRIKE 1: FOURTH-QUARTER TECHNICALS
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has a fairly short list of things his players absolutely cannot do during a game, and right near the top is committing fourth-quarter technical fouls. Warranted or not, both Nate Robinson and Shaquille O'Neal got tagged with T's with 8:32 remaining in a 1-point game. Cleveland's Daniel Gibson made both technical free throws, then Antawn Jamison produced an 8-foot runner to put the Cavaliers ahead 80-77 with 8:15 to go.

In his defense, Robinson didn't appear to do anything egregious (at least enough to warrant the technical as fast as it came). Driving from the wing, Robinson got called for traveling and, leaving his feet to shoot after the whistle, his right leg flared out as Ryan Hollins approached to defend, striking the Cleveland big man in a manner that might have led the officials to believe it was an intentional kick. During the timeout that followed, O'Neal got his technical for yapping at veteran referee Bob Delaney.

STRIKE 2: 19 TURNOVERS FOR THE CELTICS
Turnovers were a glaring problem last season and Boston has shown worrisome signs that they'll again be an issue this season with 39 giveaways through two games, including 19 against the Cavaliers. The good news? Cleveland only generated eight points off those turnovers Wednesday (this after the Heat generated 22 points off 20 turnovers Tuesday). The bad news? That's still way too many offensive possessions to give up in a close game, particularly as Boston struggled to score in the second half. The C's finished with a mere 14 fourth-quarter points, generating only two field goals away from the rim. Speaking of that ...

STRIKE 3: CELTICS ABANDON THEIR POST
One night after Boston thrived in scoring around the basket, the team seemingly abandoned its post game Wednesday, settling for outside looks and low-percentage shots instead of attacking the basket. Look no further than Kevin Garnett, who famously took advantage of a favorable matchup against Antawn Jamison in last year's playoff series against the Cavaliers, helping Boston advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Working against J.J. Hickson at the start of Wednesday's game, Garnett hit his first three shots, including a pair near the basket. He then missed his final five attempts from the floor, only one of which came inside of eight feet. That inability to generate easy buckets left Boston frustrated and might have spilled over to the defensive end, where players failed to maintain their typical intensity.

STRIKE 4: THE LONGEST SECOND
Rivers bit his tongue while talking to reporters after the game, but he didn't appear particularly thrilled with the officials, not only for the two fourth-quarter technicals issued to Boston, but over a questionable 3-pointer by Cleveland's Anthony Parker that helped the Cavaliers pull away late in the fourth quarter. With one second on the shot clock, Parker was able to corral an inbounds pass, swing his arms completely under a pursuing defender, elevate, and line drive a 3-pointer before the shot clock sounded. Rivers seemed incredulous that all of that could have unfolded in one tick and voiced his displeasure to officials. The play was reviewed, but according to Rivers, only to ensure it was a 3-point basket.

ON THE POSITIVE SIDE ...
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Green despite a disappointing loss on the second night of a back-to-back. Glen Davis continues to play inspired ball, scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting with five rebounds, an assist and a steal. Davis, who played a whopping 31 minutes, was the team's second-highest scorer behind Rajon Rondo. His performance also offset a disappointing outing for Jermaine O'Neal, who lasted only 12 minutes before fouling out with only two points and two rebounds ... Garnett hauled in 15 rebounds, a whopping number after averaging less than half that amount last season. He often said last year that his timing simply wasn't right, and this type of performance is a good indication he and his surgically repaired right knee are back on track ... Boston continues to shine on the glass (a weak spot during last year's regular season), grabbing 38 boards.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9