WHO: Celtics (20-19) vs. Cavaliers (14-25)
WHEN: 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: NBC Sports Boston
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
G: Marcus Smart
G: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Daniel Theis
G: Collin Sexton
G: Darius Garland
SF: Isaac Okoro
PF: Larry Nance
C: Jarrett Allen
The Boston Celtics (20-19 18-21 ATS) travel to Cleveland on a back-to-back to face the Cleveland Cavaliers (14-25, 15-24 ATS), who have only won six games since allowing Boston to score 141 points on Jan. 24.
Tristan Thompson (COVID-19 protocol) and Romeo Langford (COVID-19 protocol) are out again for the Celtics. Kemba Walker (knee) continues to miss back-to-backs.
Taurean Prince, Kevin Love (calf), Matthew Dellavedova (abdomen) and Andre Drummond are expected to miss tonight’s game for Cleveland.
According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 8.0 point favorites.
- Celtics vs. Cavaliers spread: Celtics -8
- Celtics vs. Cavaliers over-under: 212.5 points
- Celtics vs. Cavaliers money line: Celtics -360, Cavaliers +290
Games against the likes of the Hawks and Rockets, along with a thrilling win over the 76ers, ended a 10-game losing streak for the Cavaliers, but they dipped back to 100 points or fewer in each of their last three games. The Heat handed them their fourth straight loss following a four-game win streak.
The Cavs returned Kevin Love for 11 minutes this week before he fell again with a calf injury. Andre Drummond and Taurean Prince are sitting, as Cleveland goes all in developing its youth. The team now features the worst offense in the NBA in terms of scoring and offensive rating. Its promising defensive start has slid to league average with Drummond out.
Jarrett Allen has long been a Celtics killer, and is averaging 13.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game since landing in Cleveland in the James Harden trade. Javale McGee provides solid bench rim protection behind him and rookie Isaac Okoro has shown flashes, but the team largely relies on the volume shooting of its inefficient guards for offense. This game should otherwise be a relief for Boston after facing elite shooting teams in Brooklyn and Utah, unless Sexton gets hot.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown looked sharp again, combining for 47 points on 24-of-45 shooting in the loss against the Jazz. Brown is getting back to the basket and into transition runs, while Tatum’s shot is falling. The pair shot 50% in the same game for the second straight night, after not doing so going back to January before that.
Marcus Smart will assume more play-making with Walker out, which should be a positive after a night playing off the ball where he struggled to shoot. His 2-of-10 night largely swung the game toward Utah. Robert Williams III and Daniel Theis both thrived at center.
All those effort should translate into a manageable win like Sunday’s against Houston as Boston gets back to beating the competition it should in recent weeks. A cover seems likely here as well, with Cleveland struggling to get within 10 points of its opponents lately. Watch Larry Nance and Allen, who may be able to take advantage of Boston’s interior woes with cutting.
Boston 111, Cleveland 100 (18-14, 13-16 ATS)