The Celtics went into Cleveland Saturday night winners of five straight games. Unfortunately, five games is where the streak would end as the guys in green fell to the Cavaliers 120-103.
Boston started the game hot, building itself a lead as large as 18 points before Kyrie Irving (15 first-half points) sparked a second quarter run that resulted in the Cavaliers taking a one-point lead into the halftime break.
When play resumed, Cleveland remained in control. They outscored the Celtics 36-29 in the third quarter, increasing their advantage to eights points by the end of the period and it wasn't long before eight points ballooned to as much as 15 with just a minute and a half remaining in the fourth. It was at that point when Brad Stevens threw in the towel, emptying his bench and eliminating any possible opportunities for a comeback.
You can point to a couple of different things to explain this loss. But, at the end of the day, the Celtics' defense wasn't nearly as good as it needed to be. They allowed Cleveland to shoot over 50% from the field; gave up a whopping 52 points in the paint; surrendered 25 second-chance points; lost the battle at the free throw line (19/27 to 26/34); and only managed to rack up six fast break points.
Obviously, none of these things are a part of the recipe for success. But what hurts the most is their inability to convert the turnovers they forced into easy buckets. Boston thrives on turning their defense into offense and they average 15.9 fast break points per game—the fifth-best mark in the league. Add those 10 points to their cause and it's a six point game with 90 seconds to go. Does that guarantee them a win? Not at all. However we saw what happened last time they were at The Q. They would have at least had a puncher's chance.
The team will now get a few days off before playing Memphis this coming Wednesday.