Game 75: Cavs at Celtics
Radio/TV: WMMS (100.7 FM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs snapped their dreadful 10-game losing streak.
This was the Tristan Thompson show for the Cavs. After the air-it-out session in practice on Thursday, Thompson said it's time for the Cavs to play like men.
Thompson played like a man possessed on Friday. He established career highs in points (29) and rebounds (17) against the banged-up Celtics. He added seven offensive rebounds, one assist and one block. He was 10 of 17 from the field.
The Cavs didn't pussy-foot around. They came out and played aggressively. They knocked guys down while setting picks. They competed. They also scratched, poked, pushed and clawed. That's the way they have to play.
The Cavs had just four players reach double figures. Forward Alonzo Gee was outstanding on Friday with 16 points, 10 rebounds and one block.
Guard Kyrie Irving returned to playing his regular minutes with 37. He finished with 11 points, dished out a game-high eight assists and added five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. The downside? He couldn't make a shot. He was 4 of 20 from the field, perhaps his worst shooting night of the season.
But like his teammates, he battled.
There were stretches of the game where Tyler Zeller looked like the worst center in the league. But in the end, he had nine points and six rebounds. He fought in the post, and took a couple charges.
Zeller averaged 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in four games vs. Boston this season.
Even forward Kevin Jones, who can't seem to make a shot if his life depended on it, had eight rebounds.
The Cavs destroyed the Celtics on the boards, 58-42. That's the most rebounds they've had all year in a game. Their 43 defensive rebounds were also a season high. One of the reasons for all the rebounds were the inordinate amount of missed shots in the game. Both the Cavs and the Celtics attempted 89 shots on the night.
The Cavs defended as well as they have all season. They held the Celtics to 40.4 percent shooting from the field and 27.3 percent from behind the arc.
Now, we can't ignore the fact the Celtics were playing without their top three players in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. But I don't care in the least. No one cares when the Cavs are playing short-handed.
The teams were tied 2-2 in the season series.
Celtics forward Jeff Green is on a tear and has averaged 20.9 points in his last six games. Included in that stretch were back-to-back 27-point games. He had 23 points and nine rebounds on Friday.
He is slowly replacing the aging Pierce as the Celtics' go-to guy. He's long, strong and very talented. On the winning drive against the Cavs last week, he received the ball at the top of the key. Two strides later, he was at the rim.
LAST GAME: The Cavs lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday, 113-95.
UP NEXT: The Cavs host Orlando at 6 p.m. Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Jeff Green (6-9, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Brandon Bass (6-8, 250)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Chris Wilcox (6-10, 235)
SG Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200) vs. Courtney Lee (6-6, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Avery Bradley (6-2, 180)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Dion Waiters
Celtics - G Rajon Rondo, F/C Jared Sullinger, C Fab Melo
Michael Smith, Karl Lane, Mark Lindsay