Cleveland Cavaliers Win Physical Battle Against Celtics

BY Fansided and Jamyson Frierson/FanSided via Hoops Habit • December 31, 2016

The Cleveland Cavaliers won another tough battle against the Boston Celtics, 124-118 in a high scoring game. Could the Celtics be the Cavaliers toughest challenge after two close calls?

It was another normal battle between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics.

There weren’t any knockouts or dislocated shoulders in this game, but it was another classic, physical game between the two Eastern Conference rivals.

The game started off like the Cavaliers were going to win another easy one after establishing the transition game early.  It was a much better start than they had in the previous game against the Detroit Pistons.

After the Tristan Thompson dunk, it seemed like the contest was already decided.

But as Lee Corso always said, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Kevin Love had another one of his good shooting nights — until the fourth quarter. He went 3-of-6 in the first quarter from long range to set the tempo, and finished the night going 6-of-16 from there. He had 30 points and 15 rebounds.

I was hoping for another Portland Trail Blazers start, where he had 34 points in the first quarter, but it wasn’t to be. He played an overall good game, but he started forcing shots when the Celtics started to make their comeback.

The Cavaliers started taking themselves out of rhythm when they kept complaining about the physicality of the game to the officials.

It’s something that all Cavs fans are still leery of after Kelly Olynyk dislocated Love’s shoulder in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows his team doesn’t have much consistent offensive talent outside of Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, so he makes the team play a gritty, tough style of ball against opposing teams, and it’s worked.

Kyrie Irving impressed again in the game, and down the stretch. This was easily the best passing year of his career. He’s starting to see the floor better, and have that vision that only a few point guards possess.

He’s finally becoming the complete point guard that we expected coming out of Duke.

He had “tough guy” Marcus Smart going all over the place. I call him that because in the third quarter, after LeBron James backed him down in the post, and overpowered him, he took offense to it and tried to get in his face, only to be shooed away by James.

That’s one thing I don’t like about Boston. When the game isn’t going their way, they go from being a fundamental, defensively tough team to a dangerous one. They start committing hard fouls that could hurt opposing players.

The Cavaliers hurt themselves in the final minutes of the game by horrible turnovers. James made one of the worst passes I’ve ever seen that got stolen by Avery Bradley at a crucial point in the game.

They had 18 total turnovers. Most teams lose the game with that many, but the Cavs were able to persevere. If Jae Crowder made the open three-point shot, it might have been a different outcome.

It should have never got to that point for the Cavaliers.

It was reminiscent to the first game they had against Boston this season. The Cavs had a comfortable lead, but the Celtics slowly started making a comeback with open three-point shots and forced turnovers.

The matchup against the Celtics has always seemed to cause the Cavs problems, especially since James came back.

They don’t matchup well with them, and they seem to force the Cavaliers to play a half-court offense instead of being able to run, and create ball movement.

It was also obvious in the game that the Cavs are in need of a true backup point guard immediately. Irving left the game in the final moments of the fourth quarter with a hamstring cramp.

It might be due to him still being sick. or because he’s playing extended minutes. It should be priority number one for general manager David Griffin.

The Cavaliers were able to escape the game with a win, but they can’t keep taking Boston for granted and playing lethargic basketball towards the end of the game, or next time, it might be a different result.

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