The Cavaliers enter their game on the road against Boston with a completely remade roster. Gone are Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and three more members of the rotation. In their place are Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, George Hill and Larry Nance Jr. The newbies only have had one practice with the team, so it’s a less than ideal situation.
Well, no better way to get used to playing with eachother than to do it. We’ll see what happens.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (32-22) at Boston Celtics (40-17)
When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: TD Garden
Where on my eyeballs? ABC
Cavaliers injuries: Kevin Love (OUT - hand)
Celtics injuries: Gordon Hayward (OUT - ankle/leg), Marcus Smart (OUT - hand), Shane Larkin (OUT - knee)
Three keys to the game:
- Well, uh, it’s kind of hard to know what to expect. The Cavaliers will have all four new additions acquired at the trade deadline available to play. Hill is the only new name to start, but all should expect to find minutes in the rotation. It’s hard to know how much Tyronn Lue will be able to lean on a bunch of players who only know the very basics of what Cleveland runs.
- Cedi Osman also got the call to start, and watching him hound the likes of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum should be an absolute blast. Both Celtics wings are physical, smart players and Brad Stevens has them playing good basketball. Osman will have to be game, and he’ll have to battle through some tough matchups.
- If the Celtics stick with their big starting lineup, that means the Celtics will need to slot Al Horford on one of Cleveland’s wings, and LeBron James will have to work hard against Horford defensively, somebody who’s an able center on most nights. That’s a lot of strain for James to take on, but Tristan Thompson will spend most of his night wrestling with Aron Baynes. Cavalier wings will have to torch Horford from distance if he helps whoever is guarding James on the drive. Horford’s smart, but he can’t cover that kind of ground if Cedi Osman, Rodney Hood, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver are firing away.
The Cavaliers already tried one new replacement point guard for Kyrie Irving. How about another? George Hill will start at the PG spot and will match up with Irving. Hill is tall for a point guard and has long arms. He’s the best defensive point the team’s had in at least a decade, and that includes fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova. Hill’s lost a step or two, but he’s still savvy and smart. Irving will present a fun challenge for him in his Cavalier debut.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The line in this game opened at Celtics -4, and despite the fact that Boston’s been scuffling as of late, the Cavaliers will be working in too many pieces to be able to take down one of the best teams in the conference on the road. Celtics win 111-103.