One the Eastern Conference’s best teams, the Boston Celtics, enter Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday night with the NBA trade deadline looming large. The Celtics, though, just need some wins. They come into the game tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the conference’s third best record; given that there are five teams in the east that seem to be on a different level than the rest of the conference, securing a top-three seed avoids a tough four vs. five seed first round matchup. The Bucks and Raptors are ahead of each team and will be tough to catch. Lots of season to go, but the Celtics can’t waste theoretical gimmes.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (11-42) vs. Boston Celtics (34-19)
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Enemy Blog: CelticsBlog
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs status updates: Kevin Love (OUT - foot), John Henson (OUT - wrist), J.R. Smith (NWT), Tristan Thompson (OUT - foot), Cedi Osman (OUT - ankle).
Celtics status updates: Kyrie Irving (OUT - hip), Aron Baynes (OUT - foot)
Three keys to the game
- How does Terry Rozier play in Kyrie Irving’s absence?
Kyrie Irving is out tonight, so we’ll see what Terry Rozier shows up. He was a revelation in last year’s playoffs, but has struggled for most of the year. When has he looked good, generally? When Irving is out. Rozier was actually a name that came up for the Cavs as a popular trade target last summer, though it died down after the team selected Collin Sexton. It looks like the Cavs may have dodged a bit of a bullet. Advanced metrics like his defense, but he’s got a sub-50 true shooting rate, and he’s not a prolific passer.
2. The Cavs were getting healthier, it seemed, but it won’t help tonight
We’re told that Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love are close to returning. David Nwaba came back last game. Now Cedi Osman will be out, and the Cavs will also be missing Rodney Hood who has now been traded to Portland. It’s unclear if Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin will be ready to play or how much they could help. Either way, we keep waiting for a day when the Cavs roster approaches full capacity and it feels like one step forward two steps back.
3. The trade deadline hovers over everything
Kyrie Irving PROBABLY isn’t going to be traded this week. He’s an unrestricted free agent that has said will re-sign with the Celtics, but also said not to ask him about it until July. With Anthony Davis loudly making it known he does not want to play for Boston, does it get to the point where they cut bait on Irving? The whispers about Kyrie and New York have been going on long enough that we remember them as Cleveland fans. He’s from the area. What would you trade Kyrie for? What’s he worth with just three months left on his deal? I don’t know. It’s probably all a hypothetical.
Also, this is maybe (probably) Alec Burks’ last game as a Cavalier.
Al Horford is a great player that never seems to play well against the Cavs. With Tristan Thompson out, maybe that will change. Larry Nance, Jr. and Ante Zizic will have to get physical with him and make him work for defensive rebounds. If he’s the best player in the game, and he should be, then the Cavs can’t really win.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
It’s a game the Celtics likely feel that they need. Hard to see a limping Cavs team win. And that’s okay. Celtics 109, Cavs 101.