Game Preview: Celtics at Cavaliers
After ending one dismal losing streak, the Boston Celtics will attempt to halt another.
Boston looks to avoid a franchise-record 14th straight road defeat by sweeping the season series with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
The Celtics entered Friday on the brink of dropping 10 consecutive games for the first time in more than seven years, but Avery Bradley scored 22 points and Phil Pressey finished with a career-high 13 assists in a 106-103 win over playoff-bound Charlotte.
Pressey was playing in place of Rajon Rondo, who sat out with soreness in his lower left leg. Jared Sullinger overcome a mild ankle sprain in the third quarter to score 20 points.
Pressey, an undrafted rookie, also made numerous hustle plays in his ninth start. His defense helped keep the Bobcats from tying it on the game's final shot.
"Phil Pressey gave us a great lift on the defensive end," Bradley said. "I feel like that's why we won the game."
The Celtics were able to hold onto their late lead after letting a nine-point edge with 5:44 slip away in Wednesday's 105-97 loss to Atlanta.
"We learned our lesson," Sullinger said. "We stayed poised."
Now that the Celtics have put their overall skid behind them, they'll look to win their first road game since beating Milwaukee on Feb. 10. Boston's 31 losses away from home are its most since finishing 9-32 on the road in 1999-2000.
Rondo, who normally sits out the second half of back-to-back sets for rest but took himself out of the lineup shortly before tipoff Friday, could play in this contest.
The Celtics have won the first two meetings without him, though. Jeff Green scored 31 points in a 103-86 rout Nov. 26, then Boston overcame 32 points from Kyrie Irving on Dec. 28 and led by as many as 22 before holding on for a 103-100 victory.
Irving scored a career-high 44 points in last Saturday's loss to the Bobcats, then finished with eight in only 23 minutes of Wednesday's blowout win over Detroit.
He struggled a bit Friday, though, shooting 4 of 12 and 0 for 5 from 3-point range while finishing with 12 points in a 119-116 loss to league-worst Milwaukee. Cleveland led by as many as 14, but was outscored 30-18 in the third quarter.
Dion Waiters had 23 points, while Jarrett Jack added 21 and Tristan Thompson finished with 18.
The Cavs have lost three of four and will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season since LeBron James bolted for Miami. Jack isn't sure if Cleveland has much motivation as another dismal season comes to an end.
"Obviously with the moment with us that we are in, being eliminated from the playoffs, guys struggle with the whole, `We are playing for nothing' type thoughts,"' Jack said. "You are playing against a team who has struggled all season, but you have to tip your cap to them. They came out regardless of what their record was and played the necessary basketball to get the win."
Boston has won six of the last eight meetings overall and four of five in Cleveland.