After erasing a 19-point deficit on Saturday the Cavs prepare for the second game of a two-game series against the Celtics tonight to extend their winning streak to three games.
HOW TO WATCH
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (9-5) vs. Boston Celtics (6-7)
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse - Cleveland, Ohio
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Celtics -2.5
Opposing blog: CelticsBlog
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Collin Sexton (OUT - meniscus), Lauri Markkanen (OUT - health & safety protocols), Kevin Love (OUT - health & safety protocols), Lamar Stevens (OUT - right ankle sprain)
Expected Celtics starting lineup: Marcus Smart, Dennis Schroder, Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, Robert Williams III
Celtics injury report: Brodric Thomas (two-way), Jaylen Brown (OUT - hamstring strain), Al Horford (DAY-TO-DAY - back), Josh Richardson (DAY-TO-DAY - knee)
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Defense. In their first game against the Celtics, the Cavs surrendered a 89 points to a team that averages almost 108 points per game. On the season, opponents are scoring 101.3 points per game on average against Cleveland, the second-lowest total allowed in the NBA. If that holds here, the Cavs have a good shot at winning.
Rebounding. Although the Cavs rank 13th in the Eastern Conference in total rebounds (43.8) and were out-rebounded 47-39 in the first matchup, the combined 17 rebounds on Allen and Mobley barely outnumbered the 16 rebounds brought in by Boston’s Robert Williams III alone. If Al Horford again doesn’t play due to injury, the Cavs cannot afford to be outperformed on the board like this again and expect to win. Take advantage of Celtics being forced to play a smaller lineup and give your team, already down Collin Sexton, extra chances to score points.
Non-star players. Already down Lauri Markkanen, Kevin Love and Sexton, Cavs bench players are playing extended minutes, but not producing in these minutes can hurt the team. For example: Dean Wade’s plus/minus was -13 and Dylan Windler’s plus/minus was +8 despite attempting (and missing) only two shots. The Cavs are going to need not only better production, but also more aggression out of its rotation players when starters are getting a spell on the bench to keep up with teams like Boston and the gauntlet of opponents they’ll see over the next two weeks. Isaac Okoro is another name to watch.