Cavaliers, Celtics to clash in Columbus
Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics will kick off the 2009 NBA season on Tuesday. First, the rivals put an end to the preseason with a 7 p.m. meeting tonight at the Schottenstein Center.
A year ago, the Cavs and Washington Wizards played at the Schott during the preseason. Cleveland won, 107-80.
King looks to reign supreme
Fresh off of winning his first MVP award, LeBron James will attempt to lead his team further than last year, when the Orlando Magic knocked out the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. James finished second in the NBA, averaging 28.4 points per game.
He led the Cavs in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
But while James remains focused on the trek toward a potential championship, much of the media have centered on his impending free agency.
Whether James will suit up next season in Knicks' blue, Nets' gray or Cleveland's wine and gold, he has maintained that no decision or thought will be made until after the season.
Celtic pride on the rebound
Boston followed up its 2007-08 NBA Championship by getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs by Orlando.
Injuries derailed the Celtics, who had looked as though they were on the path to a repeat. Twelve-time All-Star forward Kevin Garnett suffered a strained knee in February and missed the majority of the remainder of the season.
Without their leader, the Celtics found themselves in a battle during the first round of the postseason. The Chicago Bulls pushed Boston to a decisive seventh game, but the Celtics prevailed. The Celtics and Magic exchanged blows until game seven, when Orlando's indefensible three-point shooting proved to be too much for Boston's injury-riddled squad.
Can offseason additions put teams over the top?
A shift in power occurred during the offseason, as perennial powers added to their arsenals.
San Antonio added forward Richard Jefferson and his career average of 17.7 points per game. The Los Angeles Lakers inked former Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest to a five-year contract.
Orlando shook up its roster by trading for eight-time All-Star guard Vince Carter, and Boston added former Detroit Piston Rasheed Wallace.
All of this was preceded by the major move of the offseason, Cleveland's acquisition of 15-time all-star center Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns.
The Cavs parted with forward Ben Wallace and seldom-used Sasha Pavlovic, both of whom Phoenix released.
O'Neal has promised Clevelanders that his central goal is "to win a ring for the king."
His addition gives James an inside presence who can handle a portion of the scoring load, the first time he has had such an option. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs' center since he was drafted in 1996, is more of a mid-range shooter. Ilgauskas has ceded his starting position to O'Neal.
In addition to "The Big Witness Protection," the Cavs added guard Anthony Parker and forward Jamario Moon to their roster.
On Aug. 12, forward Leon Powe agreed to terms with the Cavs. Powe, who spent his first two NBA seasons in Celtic green, tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left knee during Boston's first playoff game last April.
Even though he will be sidelined until after the All-Star break, Powe provides the Cavaliers with additional depth in the post.