Paul Pierce scored 27 points to lead the defending champion Boston Celtics to a 90-85 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening game of the National Basketball Association’s regular season.
LeBron JamesÂ and the Cavaliers led the Celtics by as many as 11 points in the first half and held a 50-43 halftime advantage at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston last night. The Celtics recovered in the third quarter, outscoring Cleveland 24- 13 to take a 67-63 lead. Pierce, the Most Valuable Player in last year’s NBA Finals, scored 11 points during the quarter.
James had 22 points to lead Cleveland, though he missed a layup with 41 seconds left that would have pulled the Cavaliers within 86-85. He also missed two of four free throw attempts in the final 10 seconds.
The Celtics opened their 2008 season last night with a loud and loving celebration of basketball in Boston, a blowout that surely defined the term “hoopla.”
First half: 53 percent shooting, 11 assists, 22 trips to the foul line. Second half: 39 percent shooting, five assists, 11 trips to line. That sums it up right there. A major factor was the Celtics’ defense, they are physical and they set the tone right off the bat in the second half. The Cavs’ reaction was to look at the officials and hope for fouls and then stop moving all together. There was a lot more 1-on-1 play in the second half, which plays into the Celtics’ strength. It is just the first game, but this was a regression back to last season.