Coming off a season high 4-game losing streak and a players only meeting which transpired immediately after Sunday night’s loss to San Antonio, the Boston Celtics hit the road to face the 3rd worst team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Prior to tonight’s game, the C’s have made it clear that they are going to rest Kyrie Irving citing “load management”, as a revolving door of injuries and “rest” are in full swing with just eight games remaining in the regular season. With a one eye on the schedule ahead, Friday night sees the Celtics travel to Indiana in what could very well be a playoff sneak preview and as such, look for Irving to be available once more for that matchup.
For a team that has struggled with chemistry and identity issues all season, the team needs to find a rhythm before heading into one of the most open Eastern conference playoff races in years. With his knee still a cause of minor concern, veteran Al Horford was absent for the last two games alongside rookie Robert Williams (back) and Jayson Tatum (back). The trio were in street clothes Sunday night and official word is Jayson Tatum and Al Horford are now listed as “probable” tonight.
#NEBHInjuryReport update: Al Horford (left knee soreness) and Jayson Tatum (low back contusion) will both go through shootaround this morning in Cleveland. Coach Stevens says they’re “questionable-to-probable” for tonight’s game.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 26, 2019
Following Saturday, Brad Stevens (admitted he) considers changing the starting lineup “every day”, he is not alone as many have questioned whether Stevens be forced into starting lineup changes, heading into the playoffs. A combination of rest, injury and poor play could of finally forced his hand. Gordon Hayward was a solid contributor in lieu of Tatum in his first game back from concussion protocol and Jaylen Brown has been consistently playing better than many of the starters for quite some time. If there was ever a good time to switch things up, tonight is as good an opportunity as any.
With the digits in the loss column racking up, the Celtics have struggled away from home, and Boston’s road record is not pretty at just 17 wins and 19 losses. The push is on to get at least home court in the first round of the playoffs, however as this team is well aware, the 5-5 win loss record in their last 10 games, is a fair indicator of their play in the season to date. Without dramatic improvement that 10 game record could be a forebear of their likely fortunes moving forward - inconsistent and underwhelming.
We're talking defense and adjustments needed tonight to turn things around. pic.twitter.com/f6pFuojZog— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 26, 2019
The Cavaliers have won just 19 games in the midst of tumultuous rebuilding season as the team that bested the Celtics in last years Eastern Conference finals have heavily traded away contracts and personalities to accumulate 55 losses in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. The Cavs have only played former All Star Kevin Love for a grand total of 19 games, due to a combination of injuries and rest. To his credit, starting point guard Collin Sexton has had a credible overall rookie campaign whilst averaging 16.2 ppg, placing him 4th best amongst all rookies.
PG – Terry Rozier – Collin Sexton
SG – Marcus Smart – Brandon Knight
SF – Jayson Tatum – Cedi Osman
PF – Marcus Morris – Larry Nance Jr.
C – Al Horford – Kevin Love
Boston – Robert Williams (Low Back Contusion): Kyrie Irving (Rest)
San Antonio- Matthew Dellavedova (Concussion); John Henson (Wrist)
How To Watch
Time - 7:00 EST
TV – NBC Sports Boston