at Cleveland Cavaliers (4-16) at Boston Celtics (11-10)
Friday, November 30, 2018
7:00 PM EST
Regular Season Game #22 Home Game #9
TV: NBCSB, FSO
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, WMMS 100.7
TD GardenProbable Starters
PG: Kyrie Irving ..............SG: Marcus Smart
C: Aron Baynes
SF: Jayson Tatum ............... PF: Marcus Morris Celtics Reserves
Al HorfordTwo Way Players
P. J. Dozier Head Coach
Brad Stevens Probable Starters
PG: Collin Sexton ................ SG: Rodney Hood
C: Tristan Thompson
SF: Cedi Osman................. PF: Larry Nance, Jr.Cavs Reserves
J. R. Smith
David NwabaTwo Way Players
The Celtics come back to the friendly confines(always wanted to type that) of TD Garden after a 2-1 road trip to take on one of the two worst teams in the NBA, the Lebron-less Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston played very well on the road trip, with a hard fought loss in Dallas sandwiched around great wins in Atlanta and New Orleans. The Cavs have lost their last two games but have won only 4 games all year. Tonight will be a good night to build on the overall better play that Boston showed over the last three games.
Cleveland is a different team this year without LeBron James leading the way. Also out of Cleveland is coach Tyronne Lue and any semblance of trying to win, as J. R. Smith has even acknowledged the team is tanking. All-Star power forward, Kevin Love, is injured and will be nursed along slowly. The Cavs are just a terrible team. They scored the least points per game in the league and they take less and make less three pointers a game than anyone else. Cleveland is not an efficient scoring team having bottom three marks in eFG% and TS%. Thier magic number is 113 points. They have scored above that mark five times, winning four of those games, their only wins. Hold them below 113 and you will beat the Cavs. Cleveland also has the worst defense in the league and grab the second lowest number of defensive rebounds per game, though that is most likely due to their 3rd slowest pace in the NBA. They give up the highest FG% by their opponents across the league. Basically, Cleveland doesn't score a lot of points and they give up a lot. A perfect recipe for a tanking team.
This is the part where I usually talk about who leads the opponent's team, but in the case of Cleveland, in the absence of LeBron James, and Kevin Love out, there isn't really any player that leads this team. Apart from Love, there is only one player with more than 2.8 assists per game and that is George Hill with 3.0. Jordan Clarkson gets his 16 PPG but adds little else. Cav's rookie Collin Sexton has looked solid when starting putting up 18.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 2.8 APG on very good shooting percentages, but he is a poor defender. And, of course, Boston Celtics killer on the offensive boards, Tristian Thompson is putting up his usual 11 points and 11rebounds per game. Larry Drew's squad will be stretched tonight with 4 players out due to injury and Drew's decision to not giving any playing time to Channing Frye or J. R. Smith, who requested a trade out of Cleveland earlier this month. Speaking of trades, Cleveland sent sharpshooting vet, Kyle Korver, to Utah for Alec Burks and picks. As of this writing the trade hasn't been approved by the league so there is a good chance Burks is unavailable against the Celtics.
For Brad Stevens' squad, Jaylen Brown will miss his second consecutive game due to a bruised tailbone that he got after a nasty fall in the Dallas game. Al Horford is also being given a rest game with the Celtics playing Minnesota tomorrow night. The Celtics starting units had much improved, aggressive game starts averaging 35 points in the first quarters of the last three games. This has been a key to much of Boston's wins this year and needs to continue. Keys to this game will be Kyrie Irving taking advantage of the poor defensive backcourt of the Cavs as well as continuing to shoot better from everywhere. It would behoove Boston to stay aggressive all game and really crank up the pressure in the 4th quarter as Cleveland will be playing 6 players big minutes tonight with their depleted bench. Here's hoping the Celtics get a win and can finally start playing consistently to their talent level.