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Cavaliers vs. Celtics: game preview, start time, TV information

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Two of the East’s best teams square off for the second time this season.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

After a come-from-behind victory that has all the makings of an eventual classic against their juggernaut of a rival, The Golden State Warriors, and a sluggish, half-hearted loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. The Celtics, who are currently third in the Eastern Conference standings at 19-13, are 6-4 in their last 10, including a Christmas win against the Knicks and a victory against Memphis in their last two.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics

When: Thursday, Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.

Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio

TV: TNT, Fox Sports Ohio

Enemy Blog: Celtics Blog

Music: Marky Mark ft. The Funky Bunch- “Good Vibrations”

  • Unlike Marky Mark’s dance moves, the Celtics lack flash, but they’re a deep and smart team, and while they might not have a star, they’ve turned a team of players that many people saw as trade assets into a team that has made the playoffs two years in a row and they will probably earn home court advantage this spring — all while staying in the lottery from that ridiculous Brooklyn trade. And they’ve done it by playing fluid basketball — reflected by being third in the league in assists per game (24.8) and having the fifth fewest turnovers (12.4).
  • Beating the Celtics starts with slowing down Isaiah Thomas, who is currently seventh in the league in scoring with 26.8 points per game, while adding 6.3 assists per game. When he gets the hot hand, he’s not only hard to contain, but he opens everything up for the entire team, and since he’s their primary ball-handling threat, getting him flustered early is key. I’d imagine we’ll see a lot of DeAndre Liggins on Thomas, which will be another good test for Liggins, and will add to the current case study that will indicate whether or not he can handle playoff minutes.
  • “I think we should be winning games without him,” Kevin Love, according to an article by ESPN’s David McMenamin, in reference to the Cavs playing poorly without LeBron. “We are capable, but like I said, we’ll have him and expect to have him, and we’ll all pick each other up. Knock on wood, we’ll [have] him and have Swish [Smith] back and have everybody back and playing well.” The Cavs will have a fresh LeBron back for this Celtics game, which should pay dividends in a quasi-rivalry game like this. (As for their struggles without him, it’s not easy to gravitate your entire game plan around one player, and then take that piece of the equation out, reinvent the game plan and expect their not to be bumps.) A big game from LeBron is more than likely in store — a reminder that all the resting is worth all the flak, because they’re playing for the bigger picture.

Fear The Sword’s Fearless Prediction

Cavs win 108-99, in a game that’s closer than the score appears, with several lead changes.