Cleveland Cavaliers Take On Underhanded Boston Celtics

The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Boston Celtics tonight at The Q Arena.

Tonight, the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Boston Celtics in a game that pits them against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. In the opening act of TNT’s rock concert (Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors are taking on Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder after the Cavs match), the Cavs are taking on a Celtics club that defeated a 3-0 Chicago Bulls team.

The Celtics did that without their big splash free agent acquisition Al Horford, who’s experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Horford has been playing well for the Celtics this season with averages of 12.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 blocks per game on 65.0 percent shooting from two-point range. While averaging a career-low in rebounds thus far, Horford has been a dynamic center for the Celtics and a force on both ends.

All the scouting report on Horford needs to read is that he’s big, strong, smart and can shoot out to the three.

The Celtics were also, for the most part, without Jae Crowder who produced an impressive stat line in 14 minutes before leaving the game with an ankle sprain. Crowder is a 3-and-D small forward that excels in his role with the Boston Celtics. His play is reminiscent of Shane Battier, Crowder just has a more fierce personality off-the-court.

The Boston Celtics won’t have either Horford or Crowder for tonight’s game.

Amir Johnson is an able and versatile two-way power forward and with him in the starting lineup the Celtics don’t necessarily suffer without Horford. They’re just less dominant.

Yet, without Crowder, the Celtics will likely play Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown more. Brown, the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, may start.

Neither are strong three-point shooters and will allow the Cavs to focus on one dimension of the offense more than the others. For his part, Smart was inefficient and turnover-prone in his first game of the NBA season. At least one of those could be expected to continue as Smart has shot 35.6 percent from the field in his career.

Brown has been efficient this season, shooting 55.0 percent from the field in a small sample size. However, the biggest problem with Brown here comes defensively. While he may be athletic enough to stick with LeBron James on the perimeter, he won’t be able to deal with James down low. James could also exploit Brown’s size with pick-and-rolls with Kevin Love.

This is not a recipe for success for the Boston Celtics, as an additional issue for the Celtics will be containing a potential three-point barrage they didn’t see from the Bulls. They didn’t have to contend with the uptempo attack of the Cavaliers either.

While Kyrie Irving faces a good defensive test in trying to slow down Isaiah Thomas and Love with Johnson, those two are the only real hope for the Celtics to win this game.

Could the Celts slow down Irving, James or Love? The short answer is yes. If Brad Stevens comes up with a brilliant defensive plan, as he’s capable of.

Still, it’s more likely that James gets the 32 points he needs to pass Hakeem Olajuwan for 10th all-time on the NBA’s scoring list and the Cavs leave The Q with win number five.

What do you expect to happen in tonight’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics? Do you think the Celtics can keep it close without two of their most important players? Let us know in the comments section or Twitter @KJG_NBA.

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