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Celtics face Lebron-less Cavaliers

Months removed from their ECF battle, the Cavaliers and Celtics set off to scrimmage in a season that holds different directions for each squad.

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NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For the Celtics final two tune-up games they’ll face a Lebron James-less Cleveland Cavalier team that seems to be trending the opposite way of the Celtics. While a common talking point in Boston is about the teams great depth and how it they can attack teams in unique ways because they arguably have 10 starter-quality players on their rotation, the Cavaliers are struggling to find the balance between youth and veteran minutes. Let’s get into some themes to watch for tonights scrimmage.

1. The Terry Rozier show

Stevens spoke glowingly of Rozier after Monday’s practice, calling Rozier “tremendous” and saying that he works as hard as any player on the team. With Kyrie Irving being sidelined tonight for rest purposes, the presumption is Rozier will start. With Al Horford expected to play tonight, this will be an interesting look for the Celtics with Rozier being paired the the other core members of the starting five. Rozier won’t offer the same offensive prowess that Irving possess, but he’s no slouch and his defensive versatility and plus rebounding gives the Celtics a different type of weapon to work with. He’ll most likely split PG duties with Hayward and it actually wouldn’t surprise me if Hayward was an early sub so he can be staggered with the second unit to replace the ball-handling they lost with Rozier starting.

2. The Korver assignment

Without Lebron James or Kyrie Irving to draw extra defenders and kick out to shooters the Cavaliers will begin to start using Korver the same way he was used in Atlanta. That means a whole lot of running, and whole lot of chasing for the team. Boston switches often and has made it a theme to their defense so Korver will not be the responsibility of one defender. However, defending him requires a trailing him consistently in a way that usually puts a lot of pressure on his initial defender. Smart, Brown, and Rozier will all get their times on him with the cameo’s from perimeter guys if a switch is required. Obviously the stakes are not as high tonight, but it’ll be good practice for the first matchup against JJ Reddick and the Sixers.

3. Any new lineups?

Stevens will have another opportunity to play around with lineups so more, specifically now that his Point Guard rotation shuffles a bit with Irving sitting out. Does he replace that with another guard such as 28-year old Brad Wanamaker? Does he throw second-year wing Semi Ojeleye into the mix a little more to make up for shooting? Or does he try something a little crazy like pairing Theis and Williams together and see what two bouncy bigs with passers heart look like on the court together. I don’t know, but every opportunity for Stevens to explore new lineups should be watched.

4. Marcus Morris vs. Tristan Thompson?

So if you apply the the Kawhi Leonard theory to social networking, here’s what you missed: First, Tristan Thompson pronounced that the Cavaliers were still the team to beat and called out the top three teams of the conference.

In response, Marcus Morris had this to say:

If you remember, Morris and Thompson had a little dust-up during the regular season after this play:

Will we get an encore tonight? Who knows, it does feel important to mention that Morris’ twin brother Markieff Morris got ejected last night after a verbal altercation with Knicks rookie Mitchell Robinson. If we know anything about the Morris Twins, it’s that they like doing things together.

5. Collin Sexton and Marcus Smart will share a basketball court

For some of you, this is the first time you will be subjected to the Collin Sexton experience, welcome. The Cavaliers rookie guard was the selection made by Cleveland using the Nets pick given to them by the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade so he’ll forever be linked to Kyrie, (at least to the good people of Ohio).

Anyway, Sexton is crazy, but an endearing crazy that fans love and opponents love to hate. He made some rounds in the summer league for his.... unique defense on Josh Hart down the stretch of an intense summer league game.

It appears that the Cavaliers will bring Sexton off the bench to start the season as they auction George Hill and give him the first crack at running the offense. That means we’re going to get a collision course of both Sexton and Smart on the court for an extended period of time, probably going head to head as the team’s backup PG’s. This isn’t exactly Irving v. Curry here, but chances are the level of energy and competition will raise to a level that goes way above the normal lethargic attitude of preseason basketball.

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