Boston at Cleveland
7 P.M. ET
Quicken Loans Arena
Boston: 106.8 points/100 possessions (tie-8th)
Cleveland: 99.5 points/100 possessions (28th)
Boston: 98.5 points allowed/100 possessions (1st)
Cleveland: 105.2 points allowed/100 possessions (19th)
Probable Cleveland starters: Mo Williams (PG), Anthony Parker (SG), Joey Graham (SF), JJ Hickson (PF), Anderson Varejao (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: Cavs: The Blog
Thumbnail: The Celtics hit the floor tonight looking to avenge their loss to Cleveland in the second game of the season. It’s the perfect example of a trap game: a midweek matchup against a mediocre team; the kind the Celtics must win consistently if they have any hope of holding home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Weirdly enough – it’s also a trap game of sorts for the Cavs, who may be looking ahead to the Heat game on Thursday (and what I assume is their only national TV appearance of the whole season).
Blather: ESPN Boston‘s Chris Forsberg grabbed this terrific quote from Glen Davis about the Celtics alleged newfound focus against teams they should maul:
“We don’t speak no English, all we know is ‘kill,'” Davis said after Monday’s practice in Waltham. “That’s it. No more English. Switzerland. That’s all we know is ‘kill.’ Kill, kill, kill; That’s our mentality. That’s how we have to be for the rest of the season, winning these games and not taking Toronto for granted, not taking Cleveland for granted. Not taking any of these teams for granted. Every team gets up for us and we just gotta get up for every game. No days off.”
I love that Davis used Switzerland to illustrate his team’s murderous intent. If the Celtics are Switzerland, presumably the Cavs are Belgium. Are you ready for this Euro-league clash, Celtics fans? Or at least some really good chocolate?
Battle Of The Lunatic Color Commentators: Those of you watching the game on League Pass may get the Cavs broadcast team. If you’re unfamiliar with Austin Carr’s deranged work behind the mic, and bountiful catchphrases, then get ready. The man has inspired his own drinking game.
Here’s one of Carr’s signature bellows:
Of course, our own Tommy Heinsohn is no slouch either. Particularly when it comes to rage:
WHAT THE CAVALIERS DO WELL:
Compete: Nothing about the Cavs numbers will really wow you, although they do a great job cleaning up their own defensive glass. But this team was supposed to be buried in basketball purgatory with the Clippers, Raptors and T-Wolves. Like Toronto, they’re better than prognosticated. Let’s give some credit to Byron Scott and the resilience of that roster on that front.
Of course, there’s a downside to mediocrity, in that a middle-of-the-pack finish in the Eastern Conference will likely keep Cleveland from the upper end of the lottery, where franchises can reload high-end talent. The upside is that Quicken Loans Arena will see a few more W’s this year. That noted, I suspect they’re over-performing. They’ve had the 7th easiest schedule in the league so far this year.
Now, check the Cavs’ likely starting lineup. With Hickson and Varejao starting, the Cavs have no true center. But those two bigs bring energy, length and activity, all potential problem for the Celtics bigs. Varejao in particular, can cause havoc on D and on the glass (8.9 rebounds/game, top-20 in the league in rebound rate at 16.4). Many of you will disagree but I think he’d make a great Celtic.
Additionally, Scott bringing Antawn Jamison off the bench limits Kevin Garnett’s ability to humiliate and degrade him, the way he did in last year’s playoffs. Let’s see if Doc Rivers will seek out that matchup, and work KG in the post. Also, keep an eye on Mo Williams tonight – who is quietly putting up solid numbers for the Cavs this year (19.05 PER, leads team in PPG at 16.2). It’s not a walk-in-the-park tonight for Rajon Rondo.
WHAT THE CAVALIERS DO POORLY:
Many things. If the Celtics are engaged (or in touch with their inner Swiss), this should be a no-contest. The Cavs just have too many holes.
As long as the Celtics keep the Cavs off the offensive glass (which shouldn’t be a problem; like Boston, Cleveland doesn’t get a lot of second chance opportunities and they no longer have Lebron James penetrating and forcing defensive rotations) they could suffocate them on defense. Cleveland just doesn’t have enough (read: any) elite offensive talent and Boston’s defense is, as we all know, superb.
What’s more, Cleveland is a lower-tier defensive team and the Celtics have climbed into the top-10 in offensive efficiency.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Rondo. Ostensibly, this section is about a Cavs player who makes me worry. But there are no Cavs players who make me worry. So, it’s Rondo, whose continuing issues with plantar fascitis make me worry.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY:
The entire Boston roster, except Rondo. The Green should be rested and ready tonight.
The entire Cavaliers roster.
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
A second quarter run by the bench.
A third quarter blowout lead.
Fourth quarter appearances by Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody.
Boston 113 Cleveland 95