The Celtics ended this game the same way they started it by watching Kyrie Irving drive to the basket essentially unchallenged as he led the Cavs to only their 11th win of the season with a 95-90 win over the plummeting Celtics. The C’s matched their season high 4 game losing streak with this loss and even a Doc Rivers post-game threat in Detroit didn’t help solve the defensive issues with his team.
The Celtics continually get off to poor starts and tonight was no different as they gave up 31 first quarter points (career high 19 points in a single quarter for Irving), allowed Cleveland to shoot 59% (13/22) from the field and scored 14 points in the paint. In the end, the Celtics abysmal combination of bad pick-and-roll and interior defense surrendered 46 points in the paint, including Irving scoring several easy lay-ups.
Avery Bradley must still be hurt, as Doc elected to go with Rajon Rondo guarding Irving straight up for most of the game. Rondo clearly couldn’t keep Irving in front of him and when he wasn’t scoring, the Cavs were cutting and moving without the ball to create so many easy shots. Until the Celtics can sustain the trademark defense that made them a contender the past few years, they will continue to struggle.
Ohio native Jared Sullinger registered another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 26 foul plagued minutes off the bench. Rondo nearly registered a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. The Celtics also out-rebounded the Cavs 48-39.
Other than the entire game? Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined to shoot 8/28 from the field for 33 points, as Kyrie Irving out-scored them himself by 7 points. As a team the Celtics shot 27% in the second half, good for a robust 37 points. The Cavs of all 11 wins, toyed with the Celtics defense getting pretty much whatever shot they wanted. And even when their defense played well for a stretch the start the third quarter, they couldn’t capitalize on offense. On their first possessions in the third quarter, the Cavs had 4 missed shots, a turnover and a charge. The Celtics followed that up with 4 missed shots and 2 turnovers. Alonzo Gee posterized KG. Rondo ran from one end off the court to save the ball, only to fire a strike into the hands of Irving who scored an easy bucket. C’s have a lot of work to do.
In the second quarter with about 7:04 remaining, Omri Casspi drove to the basket looking for a dunk, but KG completely owned him with a block. In the third quarter, Avery Bradley topped that with an incredible chase-down block on Dion Waiters.
See all of the referenced stats above. Those were the most relevant in addition to Tristan Thompson going for 21 and 9, with 7 offensive rebounds.
The Celtics next meet up with the New York Knicks at home for a re-match from BusGate with Carmelo Anthony. The C’s are far from the highs they were riding at that point a few weeks ago, but what better place to start a new streak than against the Knicks. You have to start somewhere, right?