The Cleveland Cavaliers, with the number two spot in the East already secured, had nothing to play for tonight. Therefore, it was a bit of a surprise that LeBron James decided to play, but not that much of a surprise when Kyrie Irving ended up being a late scratch with "hip soreness." It also shouldn't come as a shock that they lost the game 99-90, their first home loss since January 7th.
Unlike the Cavs, the Boston Celtics had a lot to play for, because they are in a battle for their postseason lives. In the first half of the game, they played like it. The Cavs came out completely listless, and it appeared as though the Celtics might run away with it. Let's go quickly to Grantland's Bill Simmons for the halftime score.
Celts 54, Cavs 40. Halftime.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 11, 2015
In the third quarter, the Cavs decided to make a game of it. A seldom-used player, I believe his name was Mike Miller, came off of the bench and scored 11 points in a span of less than four minutes. Despite trailing by 14 at the half, the Cavs headed into the fourth quarter down by only two points.
And that's when they decided to waive the white flag. Neither LeBron nor Kevin Love made an appearance in the final quarter. That was the right call. There was no sense in risking an injury to either player in an effort to win a meaningless game. J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov also watched from the bench.
The result was a nine-point win for the Celtics, which keeps them very much alive in the playoff hunt. If the playoffs started today, they would be the seventh seed, and that means they would play the Cavs. Also, if the playoffs started today, I would be happy because that would be more exciting than another week of meaningless basketball games for the Cavs. But at least these games are the good kind of meaningless, rather than the meaningless ones of the last four years.
LeBron finished the game with 14 points and seven assists in 26 minutes. He was 0-of-5 on threes and just 4-of-9 from the foul line. Love had 19 points and six boards in 31 minutes. J.R. put up a goose egg: zero points on four shots in just 18 minutes. As a team, the Cavs shot 9-of-34 from deep.
The Cavs will be in Boston for a re-match with these very same Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, it will probably be a game that looks very similar to this one.