Keys to the game: Cavaliers at Celtics


Go green

It is extremely rare in an NBA season to play a game in eight days. But this, again, is no ordinary NBA season. And the Cavaliers – who play that one game Wednesday night in Beantown and won’t play again until Sunday – are looking to lead their winning streak to seven.

Cleveland’s last two wins in their six-game streak have come up against teams struggling to line up their regular roster due to the COVID outbreak – and tonight Wine & Gold will face that test.

Already down on Isaac Okoro and Evan Mobley – who were placed in league health and safety protocol last weekend – they were recently joined by teammates Jarrett Allen, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Denzel Valentine, Ed Davis and RJ Nembhard.

As they head to Boston, the Cavs inked forwards Justin Anderson and Tre Scott as well as center Luke Kornet – who could all get in on the action on Wednesday night.

In what appears to be a long time ago, JB Bickerstaff’s team won their sixth straight year – demolishing a shorthanded Bucks team on Saturday night. In the win, the Flaming Cavaliers, who reached 10th in their last 12 games, collected 60 total points from their second unit.

Cedi Osman led Cleveland with 23 points off the bench, dropping from 8 of 12 on floor, including 5 of 9 at long distance, while Ricky Rubio notched his fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 15 points. 6 out of 12 shots, leading both teams with 10 cents and posting a best game of +33 in 29 minutes of work.

Kevin Love added 15 points, adding seven boards, a team-high, while Darius Garland paced the starters with 22 points, 10 for 13 from the field, 2 of 4 from beyond the arc.

The Celtics fell for the fifth time in their last seven tries on Monday night – falling to Joel Embiid and the Sixers as the Philly big man scored 41 points and 10 boards in the lopsided decision.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 30 points and Jayson Tatum added 17 as the shorthanded Celtics fell below 0.500 that year.

The Cavaliers return home to face the Raptors on Sunday night after Christmas before a busy time to close the calendar year – traveling to New Orleans on Tuesday and Washington on Thursday before hosting the Hawks on New Years Eve.


Story

The Cavaliers have already parted ways with the Celtics this season, overcoming a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win a thriller at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse before relinquishing a six-point home decision two nights later. As they do against most franchises, the Celtics lead the all-time regular-season streak, 135-83, with Cleveland holding a 57-55 mark at home and Boston a dominant 86-20 on the floor.

The Wine & Gold leads the all-time playoff series, 24-22 – scoring 8-16 in Boston, but with wins in six of the last nine.

The Celtics’ game assist mark against Cleveland is owned by both Larry Bird and Sherman Douglas, who each distributed 16 cents – Bird in 1990; Douglas in 93. The Cavs’ one-game leader is Andre Miller, who finished with a 25-point triple-double, 17 assists and 10 rebounds in a seven-point loss to Cleveland in 2002.


Connections

Cavaliers and Charge big man Tacko Fall – who was named G League player of the week at the end of November – spent his first two NBA seasons with the Celtics, averaging just under 3.0 points per 25 appearances.

In 29 games with the Charge, the former UCF star is averaging 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.


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