The Celtics officially clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night with their win against Detroit, and Philadelphia’s loss to the Bobcats. There is still work to do with six games remaining though, as Boston remains in reach of a higher playoff seeding.
The Celtics (39-36) currently sit two and a half games behind Atlanta and Chicago for the fifth and sixth seeds in the Eastern Conference, but they will have a great chance to make up ground tonight. The Cleveland Cavaliers (22-52) travel to the Garden, losers of 10 straight.
One of those 10 losses came against the Celtics, thanks to a buzzer-beating layup by Jeff Green. That was just one of many great plays by Green in the past couple of weeks. Green’s tremendous play has now earned him a permanent spot in the starting lineup according to Doc Rivers.
Still missing from the starting five is Kevin Garnett, who will miss his eighth consecutive game tonight. Rivers did admit that Garnett could return as soon as Sunday though.
Cleveland has also dealt with their fair share of injuries. Most notably has been Kyrie Irving, who has missed more than 20 games this season. Irving missed the last meeting against the Celtics, but recently returned from a shoulder injury, recording 16 points in 28 minutes against the Nets on Wednesday.
Irving has had his way with the Celtics this season, scoring 40 points in a January meeting. Even with Irving returning from injury, the Celtics will need to contain the explosive All-Star. Avery Bradley is likely to be given the responsibility of slowing him down.
If Boston can keep Irving in check, the Cavalier offense will be hard pressed to find other scoring options. Dion Waiters, fourth overall pick in this past year’s draft, will be out for tonight’s game. As a whole, the Cavaliers average 96.8 points per game, placing them a mediocre 17th in the league.