The Boston Celtics entered Tuesday’s matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers looking to extend their four-game winning streak. Boston was without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, and Robert Williams tonight, leading Brad Stevens to thrust Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown into the starting lineup. The Celtics were 0-2 without Irving on the road before tonights win at Quicken Loans Arena.
Both teams got off to a nice start on the offensive end, going back and forth for the majority of the first quarter. The Cavaliers were led by Collin Sexton’s 9 first quarter points on 4/5 shooting. The Celtics on the other hand took advantage of Clevelands slow defensive rotations, using some smart cuts and off-ball movement to keep the Cavs off balance. Al Horford helped lead this charge with 6 assists in his first nine minutes.
In his first game at Quicken Loans Arena since a season-ending injury in last year’s home opener, Gordon Hayward came out looking comfortable and confident with 10 points and 3 rebounds on 5/8 shooting in the first half. Boston ran a lot of sets to free him up in and around the paint along with his teammates thanks to a lack of rim protection. The two teams combined for sixteen layups and dunks in the game’s first 13 minutes.
The Celtics amped up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, clogging the passing lanes and causing 5 Cleveland turnovers in a five minute span. Boston turned these turnovers into some easy fast-break points, including this Jaylen Brown windmill.
Boston led by eight at the half, but some sloppy turnovers allowed Cleveland to take the lead midway through the third quarter.
Marcus Smart’s hot three-point continued, as he knocked down a four-point play with five minutes left in the third to go 3/3 from deep. The now-sharp-shooter, yes I said sharp shooter, finished with 17 points on 6/10 FG (4/5 3FG). Per Matt Moore of the Action Network, Smart shot 5 of 27 in the first ten games of the season. He’s 79/196 from deep (40 percent) since.
Hayward’s sharp night continued throughout the second half, helping to keep the Celtics afloat. He’d finish with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Boston extended their lead to 10 points with eight minutes left in this one, which would just about do it. Jayson Tatum led the scoring with 25 points and 7 rebounds. He was 12/12 from the free throw line, which was a career-high for attempts and makes. Tatum’s previous high of free throws made in a game was nine.
The Celtics have now won five in a row and ten of their last eleven. They face the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night at TD Garden.