Game 62: Celtics at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
1. Here's where the Cavaliers' week starts to get tougher. They started a stretch of four games in five nights. Their next two games are against teams ahead of them - at Toronto on Wednesday and at Atlanta on Friday. They finish off the tough stretch with a home game against Phoenix on Saturday.
2. The one good thing is they are healthy - for the time being, any way - during this stretch. They got All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving back in the lineup for the win over Boston. He missed the last two games with a strained left shoulder. He couldn't get back in the lineup fast enough. The Cavaliers have lost both games with him out of the lineup. They really miss his perimeter shooting, playmaking ability and defensive presence.
3. Matthew Dellavedova started the two games in Irving's absence. In 10-15 minutes coming off the bench, he's an efficient and productive player. In 40 minutes in a starting role, his deficiencies get exploited. Hopefully, there will be a return to normalcy. Delly played 25 minutes against the Celtics. He didn't score, but had five rebounds and seven assists.
4. I didn't like the way the Cavs played on Sunday in Houston. Forward LeBron James took 35 shots from the field, which is way too many. The Cavs are most effective when they share the ball and move bodies, like they did tonight against Boston. They dished out 28 assists against the Celtics. They reverted to their old ways against Houston when they played isolation basketball and James went one-on-one. Maybe some of it was the fact that Irving wasn't on the floor. Maybe James didn't have that trust factor with the players that were. All I know is they should have won that Rockets game.
5. Chicago beat the Wizards tonight. They remain a half game ahead of the Cavs for the No. 4 playoff spot. The Cavs are one game behind No. 2 Toronto.
6. The Cavs made all 14 of their free throws against the Celtics. That was in stark contrast to the Cavs on Sunday when they were 11 of 21 as a team. James was 3 of 11 in that game, 3 of 3 against the Celtics.
7. The Cavs are 9-3 vs. the Atlantic Division this year. They are now 2-0 vs. the Celtics. Boston was missing their two top big men in Kelly Olynyk (right ankle sprain) and Jared Sullinger (stress fracture in left foot).
8. Newly acquired guard Isaiah Thomas was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He helped the Celtics to a 3-1 record, which included wins over the Suns and Hornets. He placed third in the East in scoring (22 points per game) and tied for seventh in assists (6.5 assists per game). He was held in check tonight with 11 points on 4 of 13 shots.
9. The Cavs have won 12 in a row at home. They are outscoring teams by 15 points per game in that streak. They are also 19-4 overall since Jan. 15, best in the NBA.
10. The Cavs have held 17 of their last 21 opponents under 100 points. That's a key stat for the ever-improving defense.
UP NEXT: at Toronto, Air Canada Centre, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Evan Turner (6-7, 205)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Marcus Smart (6-4, 220)
Celtics - C Kelly Olynyk, F Jared Sullinger
Derrick Stafford, Brent Barnaky, Eric Dalen