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Boston Celtics demolish shorthanded Cavaliers 117-78

Cleveland isn't so tough when you take away four of their best players.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The big pregame story was Cleveland resting nearly all their top players. This was evident early on. Boston jumped out to nine point lead, highlighted by Tyler Zeller's huge slam dunk. During a listless stretch for the Celtics, the Cavs came back with nine point run of their own. They actually managed to turn this into a five point lead.

Isaiah Thomas came in and evened the score by himself. He would finish with six points for the quarter. After the great start to the game, the rest of the quarter was pretty disappointing. Their offense wasn't able to get anything going, despite only having one turnover.

After a subpar performance in the first, the Celtics demolished the Cavaliers in the second. Their defense really set the tone for the quarter. Marcus Smart made a nice steal and then finished it with a near disaster of a dunk attempt. Isaiah Thomas channeled his inner Rajon Rondo with a fantastic assist to Jonas Jerebko. Jerebko followed that up with an alley-oop to Kelly Olynyk. Eight different players scored for the Celtics in the quarter, so there's plenty of praise to go around. Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley combined for 11 straight points towards the end of the quarter. As a team, their ball movement looked really nice as the quarter progressed.

The entire quarter was like one big run for Boston. They held Cleveland to just one made field goal in the first eight minutes, and just nine points total. For the half, Boston forced Cleveland into 12 turnovers. Cleveland only scored 31 points, on 28% shooting. The Cavaliers certainly did their share, but credit to Boston for blowing out a terrible team.

Boston started the third with a 24 point cushion. Cleveland's shooting finally turned around, but the Celtics continued to force turnovers. Evan Turner carried the Celtics offense with 11 points in the third. Isaiah Thomas broke into double figures during the period too, continuing to make a compelling case for 6th man of the year.

The Celtics posted an absurd number of steals the quarter. They were constantly tipping passes, and just making life miserable for Cleveland's offense. Boston left the quarter holding a 29 point lead.

The Celtics continued their onslaught against Cleveland in the fourth. Jared Sullinger looked okay in some extended minutes of playing time. Gigi Datome buried his first three point attempt right after checking into the game. Shortly after, the Celtics set an NBA season high for steals in a game. With just under six minutes left, the Celtics pushed their lead to 38. They didn't take their proverbial foot off the gas at all. They finished the game strong, and ended up with a 39 point thrashing of Cleveland.

The Celtics are just one victory or Indiana loss away from a playoff birth. Having won four straight, they're heading in the right direction for the playoffs.

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