The Boston Celtics look to capitalize on a nice Christmas present from the NBA – namely, a five-day break in their schedule, which
included a full three days off to enjoy the holiday with friends and family – by resuming their winning ways against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
Having lost three games in a row, including a 106-79 pasting courtesy of the Indiana Pacers, the Celts are itching to get back on the court, according to Jared Sullinger:
“We just want to come out and play again, honestly. But the way our schedule is, with getting some time to ourselves a little, we can just try to get back to the Boston Celtics that we know we can be.”
I don’t mind watching Boston lose to Indiana anywhere near as much as I minded watching them blow double-digit leads against both the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards. Indiana is good – we get that. The Pacers are the only team in the East that has a legitimate shot at supplanting Miami as the Eastern Conference champions, so I can let that loss (as ugly as it was) go – but when Boston lets games against sub-.500 teams slip through their fingers, it frustrates me to no end.
Which brings me to today’s match-up. The Cavaliers currently sit in second-to-last place in the Central Division, with a record of 10-18. The Cavs score 96.5 points per game, slightly more than the Cs . . . but they are outscored by an average of 6 points per, while the Celtics are outscored on average by just under 2. Defensively, Boston makes life tough for its opponents, especially behind the arc, which allows the Celtics to hang tight in games even when their offense looks like five guys playing in an over-50 league at the YMCA. Coach Brad Stevens made sure to address Boston’s recent step backwards on the defensive end of the floor, so I look for the Celtics to regain their focus and D-up like there is no tomorrow.
The first time these two teams met this season, Boston handled the Cavs pretty easily, winning by a final score of 103-86. The Celtics cannot afford to be looking at Cleveland’s record, but this is a good team to face coming off of a bit of a layoff. If Boston’s players come out focused, intent on washing the bad taste following the loss to the Pacers out of their mouths, they should be able to pull away in the fourth quarter and win by double-digits again.
Game coverage begins at 1 p.m., so be sure to follow me on Twitter – @HoudiniCeltics and @theamazingMrS – and then check back in later in the day for my thoughts on the action!