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Game Thread: Celtics host the Lebron-less Cavs

The Celtics (without Kyrie) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (without LeBron) in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these two teams met was Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Much has changed for both teams since that game. The Cavs lost LeBron James to the Lakers and have added a few role players and a rookie or two, but they will have to go some to replace all that LeBron brought to that team. They still have several very good players and so the Celtics shouldn’t take them for granted.

This is the Celtics 3rd preseason game while it is just the first preseason game for the Cavaliers. It’s hard to predict who Tyron Lue will start but I’m going to guess it will be Hill, Clarkson, Korver, Nance, and Love. Lue has said that Nance and Love will start when they face maller and quicker bigs while Thompson will start against taller bigs so against Horford, I expect to see Nance and Love. I expect the same starters for the Celtics with the exception of Rozier stepping back into the starting lineup for Kyrie.

Kyrie Irving is not expected to play in this game after playing 27 minutes in Sunday’s game. Al Horford missed that game with a mild wrist sprain but is expected to play in this game. For the Cavaliers, JR Smith has missed the last few practices and hasn’t scrimmaged due to hip soreness and is questionable for this game. Tristan Thompson sat out Saturday’s practice with knee soreness and is listed as day to day. Marcus Georges-Hunt should make his training camp debut in this game, having been signed on Monday.

Probable Celtics Starters

BWA (Bench with Attitude)
Aron Baynes
PJ Dozier
Marcus Georges-Hunt
Nick King
Walt Lemon Jr
Marcus Morris Sr
Semi Ojeleye
Jeff Roberson
Daniel Theis
Brad Wanamaker
Robert Williams
Guerschon Yabusele

Jabari Bird (not with team) out
Kyrie Irving (rest) out
Al Horford (wrist) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Cavs Reserves
Bonzie Colson
Sam Dekker
Channing Frye
John Holland
Rodney Hood
David Nwaba
Cedi Osman
Billy Preston
Levi Randolph
Collin Sexton
Kobi Simmons
Isaiah Taylor
Tristan Thompson
Ante Zizic

JR Smith (hip) questionable
Tristan Thompson (knee) day to day

Head Coach
Tyronn Lue

Key Matchups

Jayson Tatum vs Larry Nance, Jr
Jayson Tatum struggled a bit in the Celtics’ first game but played very well at home in their last game. This is a matchup of two young and athletic players and should be fun to watch.

Al Horford vs Kevin Love
This will be another good matchup as Horford and Love are both stretch centers who are mobile and will score from both inside and outside. That is, if they both get the start at center.

Keys to the Game
Chemistry - Jaylen Brown said after Sunday’s game that the team is just scoring on ability and haven’t built chemistry as yet. They will be looking to use these final two games to build that chemistry before the season opener against Philly.

Run the Offense - This goes along with building chemistry. They need to run the offense and not just run down and toss up 3 pointers. They need to move the ball and find the open man. They need to avoid playing hero ball and play team ball.

Defense - The Celtics have shown flashes of playing good defense but we haven’t yet seen that lock down team defense that kept the Celtics at the top of the league on defense all last season. They need to work harder on team and individual defense.

Rebounds - The Celtics were out-rebounded in game 1 and lost and they bounced back and won the rebounding battle and the game in the second game. Rebounding takes work and effort and the Celtics need to put out that effort and beat the Cavs to rebounds on both ends of the court if they hope to win this game.

NO INJURIES - This pretty much is obvious. After having to play through losing several key players last season, the Celtics need to stay healthy. This is just the preseason and we want all of our players to be healthy going into the regular season. Play hard and play good, but don’t get hurt!!

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