Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – With the NBA All-Star game now in the rear view mirror, the Cavaliers are ready to get back on the court tonight at home as they play host to the 15-17 Boston Celtics at the Q.
The Cavs and Celtics have had some entertaining games already in the 2011-12 season, as the teams went back and forth on January 29th and 31st. In the first game, the Cavs came back from a big fourth quarter deficit to beat the Celtics 88-87.
Two nights later, Boston built another big lead, but the Cavs made it interesting in the fourth quarter, only to finally come up short in a 93-90 setback.
The Cavs could be catching Boston at the right time, as the Celtics went into the All-Star break losing 7 of their last 8. Their final game before the All-Star break they lost at Oklahoma City 119-104.
They still have plenty of fire power, as they showed that night with 23 points each from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and 21 point from guard Ray Allen.
It’s a big game for the Cavs, as they trail Boston by just 1 1/2 games for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East. The Cavs right now know they have to play much better than their finale before the break, as they lost to New Orleans at home last Wednesday 89-84.
In that game, rookie Kyrie Irving scored only six points, his fewest since his NBA debut, and shot 2 of 13 from the field. Irving rebounded to win the Rising Stars Challenge MVP on Friday night in Orlando, and now he will look to once again lead the Cavs to a win against Boston.
The first overall pick scored a game-high 23 points and hit the game-winning layup in the closing seconds to give the Cavs the 88-87 win January 29th in Boston. Allen scored 22 in that game, Boston’s lone loss in the last four meetings.
The Cavs have been having some defensive issues as of late, and a lot of it can be traced back to the loss of Andy Varejao, who remains out with a fractured wrist.
The Cavaliers are 23rd in the league with 97.3 points allowed per game, but Boston is averaging only 85.2 during its latest rough streak. The Celtics also are giving up an average of 98.2 points over the last five games compared to the 86.7 they were allowing prior to their losing streak.
Bottom line, the Cavs have to have that sense of urgency at the start of the game, something they simply haven’t shown at the start of games as of late. They can’t afford to lag behind like in the loss to New Orleans, and the near loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Following the game tonight, the Cavs will finally play on the road again. They head to New York to take on Jeremy Lin and the Knicks on Wednesday night before coming home for the Bulls on Friday.