With the Boston Celtics on the last game of a three match home stand, the East’s 2nd place team hosted the East’s 2nd last place team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The big news on the night was the return of Gordon Hayward into the starting lineup after missing 13 games following hand surgery. From the very start of the game Gordo looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, getting out on the break and gathering on a brilliant pass from Jaylen Brown for an easy lay-up.
Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III were ruled out prior to tip off but with the recent good play from the bench unit led by Semi Ojeleye, Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter, Brad Stevens would have plenty of options available. Semi was brilliant defensively throughout and had a career-high 4 steals in only his first 10 minutes on the court whilst battling the likes of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love.
Just as he did against the Heat and Nuggets, Jaylen Brown was aggressive and efficient from the get-go logging 14 points on 6-9 shooting in the first half. Brown sustained an inadvertent knock to the face from Kevin Love, Brown would seek treatment but return for the 2nd half.
Boston would come out really strong in the third and it was rookie Grant Williams who found himself in the right place to make a good read on this give and go with Gordon Hayward.
With the Celtics sharing the load in this one, all five starters tallied double figures and that elusive Grant Williams three pointer was a feature of the third quarter as the rookie finally hit a triple as the home crowd rose in unison in a mix of appreciation and relief. Williams was 0-25 from three heading into this game and as Mike and Tommy pointed out during the game, his 3 point field goal percentage can only improve from here.
With a looming back-to-back against the Pacers and 76ers on the horizon, Brad Stevens had to leave Walker, Tatum and Brown in longer than was desirable as Cleveland mounted a mini run to start the fourth quarter. However, Kemba Walker would hit on 3 straight from beyond the arc to stifle Cleveland’s hopes and clear Boston’s bench. The Celtics have now won four straight and are 7-3 in the last ten games.