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Preview: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Preseason Game #4

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The Celtics close out the preseason with a visit to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Celtics and Cavaliers clash for the second time in 3 days in a preseason home and home series. The Celtics dominated the first game with a 118-72 win at the TD Garden. These two teams will meet an additional 4 times in the regular season with the next one coming on November 5. They will also clash on December 9, December 27, and March 4.

The Celtics game notes list Wannamaker, Edwards, Ojeleye, G Williams, and R Williams as the starters. In addition, the game notes list Brown, Hayward, Kanter, Smart, Theis, and Walker out for rest. Tatum is out with and illness and none of these players traveled with the team to Cleveland. Langford is out with a sprained knee but was expected to travel with the team. Edwards and Wannamaker are both listed as probable and are expected to start.

The Celtics said that it was decided awhile ago to rest Walker, Brown, Tatum, Smart for this game because they played for the USA in the FIBA World Cup games. Daniel Theis also played for Germany in the World Cup games. Vincent Poirier played for France in the World Cup, but he has much more to learn and catch up on since he is new to the Celtics and he chose to play. I imagine that Kanter and Hayward are resting to give the younger players more playing time and Brad Stevens more opportunity to evaluate them.

The Cavaliers list John Henson out with a groin injury and Dylan Windler out with a leg injury. Ante Zizic is listed as doubtful with a foot injury and Kevin Love is questionable for rest. The starters are listed as Sexton, Dellavedova, Osman, Nance, and Martin. The Cavs don’t really have many stars other than Kevin Love and they haven’t listed any players they will be resting. Of course, as always in the preseason, things may change for both teams.

Probable Celtics Starters

PG: Brad Wannamaker
SG: Carsen Edwards
SF: Semi Ojeleye
PF: Grant Williams
C: Robert Williams III

Celtics Reserves
Tacko Fall
Kaiser Gates
Javonte Green
Yante Maten
Vincent Poirier
Max Strus
Tremont Waters

Injury Report
Romeo Langford (knee sprain) out
Jason Tatum (illness) out
Marcus Smart (rest) out
Daniel Theis (rest) out
Jaylen Brown (rest) out
Gordon Hayward (rest) out
Enes Kanter (rest) out
Kemba Walker (rest) out
Brad Wannamaker (hamstring soreness) probable
Carsen Edwards (hip contusion) probable

Head Coach
Brad Stevens

Probable Cavaliers Starters

PG: Collin Sexton
SG: Matthew Dellavedova
SF: Cedi Osman
PF: Larry Nance, Jr.
C: Jarell Martin

Cavaliers Reserves
Kevin Porter, Jr
Jordan Clarkson
Brandon Knight
Marques Bolden
Darius Garland
Dean Wade
Daniel Hamilton
Timothe Luawawu-Cabarrot
Sindarius Thornwell
JP Macura

Injury Report
John Henson (groin) out
Dylan Windler (leg) out
Ante Zizic (foot) doubtful
Kevin Love (rest) questionable

Head Coach
John Beilein

Key Matchups

Brad Wannamaker vs Collin Sexton
One of the key parts of the trade that brought Kyrie from the Cavs to the Celtics was the Nets draft pick. That pick became Collin Sexton. Sexton is averaging 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He is shooting just 35.7% from the field, though. Brad Wannamaker is not flashy, but generally plays in control and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

Grant Williams vs Larry Nance, Jr
Nance has been playing pretty well and is averaging 10.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in the preseason. Williams isn’t a flashy player but plays under control and usually makes the right play. It will be fun to see what he can do with extended minutes.

Players to Watch
Max Strus and Javonte Greene
With the Celtics signing Tacko Fall to a 2 way contract, the 15th roster spot is now expected to go to either Max Strus or Javonte Greene. The 6’5” Greene has been impressive so far in the preseason, showing athleticism and energy as he averaged 7 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 6.7 minutes per game. He is shooting 100% from the field and 100% from beyond the arc. The 6’6” Stus started slow but was the leading scorer against Cleveland on Sunday. He is averaging 4.7 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 10.3 minutes. He is shooting 44% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. We should get a good look at both of these players in this game.

Keys to the Game Defense As always, defense is the key to every single game, whether preseason, regular season, or post season. The Celtics’ defense has looked pretty good in the last two games. The Celtics are allowing just 84.3 points and 36.5% opponents FG%. The Cavs are allowing 105.3 points per game and 47.8% field goal percentage. The Celtics MUST communicate and they have to play tough lock down defense both in the paint and on the perimeter. They can’t let up and figure they can win just because it’s just the Cavs. Defense is the key!!!!!

Rebound - Rebounding is second to defense in importance for the Celtics to get a win. Much of rebounding is effort and so the Celtics have to work hard to beat the Cavs to rebounds. The Celtics are averaging 49.7 rebounds per game while the Cavs are averaging 41.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics need to control the boards.

Move the Ball - The Celtics need to keep the ball moving and not try to do too much individually. The Celtics are averaging 25.3 assists per game and that is a good part of the reason that they have been successful. Hopefully the young players who will be getting much more playing time will be unselfish and keep the ball moving and not lapse into hero ball.

Preseason - The Cavs appear to be playing most of their regular players while the Celtics are sitting all of their starters and some key subs. Both coaches will be looking at players at the end of the bench and giving playing time to players who may or may not make the team. Hopefully the young guys will show what they are capable of and get the win.

X-FactorOn the Road - The Celtics are playing on the road and young players often struggle with their focus on the road. It will show a lot about their maturity if they can block out the distractions of playing on the road and the hostile crowd and focus on playing Celtics basketball.

Revenge Factor - The Cavs were embarrassed on Sunday and they are going to want to get even with the Celtics, especially with the odds a little more even due to the Celtics’ starters and key subs sitting out. Expect them to come out and play hard and try to avenge Sunday’s loss.