Boston at Cleveland
Quicken Loans Arena
Boston: 100.1 points/100 possessions (26th)
Cleveland: 101.4 points/100 possessions (22nd)
Boston: 99.1 points allowed/100 possessions (4th)
Cleveland: 105.3 points allowed/100 possessions (22nd)
Probable Cleveland Starters: Kyrie Irving (PG), Anthony Parker (SG), Omri Casspi (SF), Antwan Jamison (PF), Semih Erden (C)
View from the Opposing Bench: Cavs the Blog
Boston: Jermaine O’Neal is out.
Cleveland: Anderson Varejao is out.
The road back to .500 starts tonight, as the C’s have the young Cavaliers nipping at their heels for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston will almost be back to full strength with the returns of Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Rajon Rondo from injuries and suspension respectively. The Cavs will still be without the offensive rebounding machine in Varejao, making tonight’s contest an incredibly winnable one if Kyrie Irving can be held at bay. I wouldn’t put past Semih gobbling up 5+ offensive rebounds tonight either.
Per usual, I caught up with the guys at ESPNBoston for a quick 3-on-3 action and here were our thoughts on tonight’s festivities as well as the Cavs’ as a potential playoff contender. You can check out the full piece at ESPN Boston:
Payne: The Celtics win on Tuesday. The Cavs have a strong, young nucleus, but Varejao is capable of wreaking havoc on the Celtics more so than anyone else on Cleveland’s roster. Without his rebounding and overall feistiness, Cleveland won’t have its biggest advantage and the C’s prevail.
Robb: Pretenders. Rookie Kyrie Irving is having a tremendous year, and clearly a lot of the younger pieces of this roster have progressed considerably since last season, but let’s not kid ourselves. Talent-wise this isn’t a playoff team with or without Varejao in the improved Eastern Conference and the C’s will take the first step in ensuring that tonight with a hard-fought win on the road on Tuesday.
Forsberg: With a healthy Varejao, I actually think this is a somewhat scary team (maybe not a playoff team, but one that’s going to be enough of a pest to knock off better teams as the Celtics found out during that 11-point rally at the Garden earlier this season). And they have some quality wins lately, topping the Mavericks, Clippers, and Pacers this month. Losing Varejao really hurt their chances to muscle into the playoffs, but they’ll hang around if the rest of the East’s lower seeds don’t get their act together. As for Tuesday night, it’s unfathomable that the Celtics don’t come out inspired and try to get this ship sailing in the right direction. If this team has a desire to make waves this season — and not risk being torn apart at the deadline — it has to start winning games like this immediately.