The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-11) will face off again with the Boston Celtics (17-5) in the second back-to-back game at TD Garden. Cleveland put up a good fight in the first half against Boston in their last game but ran out of gas in the second half.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massechussets
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBCS-BOS, NBA TV
Spread: BOS -9.5
Expected Cavs Starting Lineup:
Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Jarrett Allen
Cavs Injury Report: Evan Mobley (Knee, OUT), Ricky Rubio (Personal, OUT), Ty Jerome (ankle, OUT), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT), Emoni Bates (G League, OUT)
Expected Celtics Starting Lineup:
Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kristaps Porzingis
Celtics Injury Report: Kristaps Porzingis (Calf, PROBABLE), Jaylen Brown (ankle, QUESTIONABLE), Jordan Walsh (G League, OUT), JD Davison (Two-way, OUT)
What to watch for
In the first half against Boston just a few nights ago, the Cavs shot exceptionally well en route to having a lead at the break. Cleveland was playing with high energy, taking advantage of a Boston team that had not played in several days. In the second half, the Celtics tightened the screws a bit defensively to help lead them back to victory.
It's the second half that was troublesome for the Cavs. Boston executed their offense much more effectively and the Cavs were unable to keep up. Not having Evan Mobley certainly impacts things, especially on the defensive end, but the Cavs simply got beat by a better team. But all hope is not lost for Cleveland, even though they will not have Mobley once again. Focusing on staying aggressive, continuing to push Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell to work off of each other, and seeking out more three-point opportunities should be paramount heading into tonight’s matchup. As has been the case all season, the Cavs have a tendency to let their foot off the gas and attempt to coast. There is no coasting against one of the best teams in the league in the Celtics.
Sustained Jarrett Allen Performance
The punching bag for many Cavs fans once again, Jarrett Allen, played exceptionally well against the Celtics - especially given the fact that he was missing Mobley next to him and played terribly in the game prior against the Magic. While Allen’s stats were not eye-popping (14 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals), he played very well against Kristaps Porzingis and did enough to mitigate his offensive potential. Cleveland will need Allen to have a similar game - excellent defense and efficient offense - if they want a chance to knock off the Celtics in Boston.
One Stat to Watch
Strust is right. The Cavs certainly do have the shooters, and there is reason to believe that they are better when they take more three-pointers. Cleveland is 25th in the NBA in three-point shots per game, which is right around what they were doing last year. The front office set out this past offseason to acquire players that would improve that rate. The Cavs attempted 45 threes in their last game against the Celtics, shooting 42% on those looks. It was a big reason why they got out to such a good start, now they need to sustain it in the second game. Be on the lookout for how the Cavs navigate the offense to get more three-point looks.