The Celtics travel to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers for their 4th and final game of the preseason. The Cavaliers will play just their second preseason game, having won their first game against the Celtics on Tuesday. The Celtics will have the final 10 days of the preseason off to work on the weaknesses they saw in their 4 preseason games.
Kyrie Irving, after announcing that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics next summer, will not travel with the team for this game due to sore ribs from hard practices this week. Gordon Hayward also will not travel to Cleveland due to a sore lower back. Neither player practiced on Thursday.
I’m going to guess that Rozier starts for Kyrie once again. Terry will have his father at the game to watch him for the very first time and so he’ll either be on fire or nervous and struggling. At first I thought that Morris may start in Hayward’s place, but the more I think about it, I’m guessing that Brad will go back to last year’s playoff roster with Horford and Baynes in the front court. Brad has said that everyone other than Hayward and Irving will play tonight.
In the first game, the Cavs started George Hill, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. On Saturday morning Tyronn Lue announced that Kevin Love, George Hill, and Kyle Korver will sit out this game. In addition, Tristan Thompson may or may not play but that decision hasn’t been made as yet. It seems strange to sit out so many players in just their second preseason game, but oh, well.
The starting lineups are just a wild guess on my part since he hasn’t announced who he will start in the place of Hill, Love and possibly Thompson. I’m guessing that rookie Collin Sexton will start in place of Hill and possibly Larry Nance in place of Kevin Love. If Thompson sits out, former Celtic Ante Zizic may get the start in his place. David Nwaba will miss the game because of a groin injury.
Probable Celtics Starters
BWA (Bench with Attitude)
Walt Lemon Jr
Jabari Bird (not with team) out
Kyrie Irving (ribs) out
Gordon Hayward (back) out
Probable Cavaliers Starters
JR Smith (hip) day to day
Kyle Korver (rest) out
Kevin Love (rest) out
George Hill (rest) out
Tristan Thompson (rest) questionable
David Nwaba (groin) out
Jayson Tatum vs Rodney Hood
Jayson Tatum has struggled a bit in the preseason so far and hopefully he can get on track in this last preseason game. If Tatum is matched up with Hood or Dekker, should be a good chance for him to have a very good game.
Terry Rozier vs Collin Sexton
With Kyrie out, Rozier should get the start again. I’m guessing he is going to be matched up with Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton, who will be looking to show what he can do in just his second game as a Cavalier. Rozier’s dad will be in the stands to watch his son play basketball in person for the first time. Terry will want to put on a good showing for him.
Keys to the Game
Chemistry - Jaylen Brown said that the team needs to build chemistry and rhythm. He also mentioned that they have several players who do the same things and nobody wants to step on the others’ toes. They need to figure out their roles and work to make those roles mesh.
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. Their 3 point shooting has been atrocious so far and they need to figure out how to either hit those shots or stop taking them.
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. Their defense last season is what made this team so good. That has to be a priority in these last days before the season.
Rebounds - The Celtics were out-rebounded in games 1 and 3 and lost and they 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!!
Make Brad Happy - If Brad is happy everyone will be happy (even Daddy).