Preview: Boston At Cleveland
When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, February 5, 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
After ending a quick road trip in losing fashion, the Cleveland Cavaliers look to reset in the opener of their longest homestand of the season. The first of the five straight games at Quicken Loans Arena pits the East-leading Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics, one of the hottest teams in the conference, on Friday night.
Kyrie Irving scored 26 points and LeBron James had 23 but Cleveland was outrebounded 49-28 in a 106-97 loss at Charlotte on Wednesday. The setback dropped the Cavaliers to 5-2 under new head coach Tyronn Lue, who also spent four seasons on the staff for the Celtics. The current unit in Boston is on quite a roll, claiming seven of its last eight games after a 102-95 win over Detroit. The Celtics’ lowest offensive output of the season came in an 89-77 loss to Cleveland at home on Dec. 15.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (29-22): This marks Boston’s first trip to Cleveland since it lost the first two games of a four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs last April, and the surging Celtics are eyeing this as a chance to make a statement. “They’re No. 1 in the East right now, they’re playing very well, so I’m interested to see how we go out and play against them,” center Tyler Zeller told the team website. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, [but] we’re playing well, and hopefully we can keep doing it.” Zeller (six points, five rebounds, four assists, three blocks) was part of another solid effort by Boston’s bench, which had 42 points and more than half of the team’s 49 rebounds against Detroit.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (35-13): Cleveland had a nine-point halftime lead at Charlotte before the Hornets won the third quarter by a 33-17 margin, continuing a troubling trend for the Cavaliers, who have been outscored in the third in the last three games by a combined 32 points. “We need to figure it out,” James told reporters. “I don’t know what it is. I know the coaching staff will try to pinpoint what the case may be. We’re doing a good job of playing great basketball in the first half, and our third quarters are pretty awful right now.” Irving, who missed the first meeting with the Celtics, is averaging 25 points over the last four games.
1. Irving is 38-of-60 inside the arc during his four-game hot streak, but 2-of-13 from 3-point range.
2. Boston also shot a season-low 32.2 percent in its loss to Cleveland earlier this season.
3. James needs 11 made free throws to become the 22nd player in NBA/ABA history to reach 6,000.
PREDICTION: Cavaliers 97, Celtics 91