Brad Stevens and Gerald Wallace had a conversation in January about the fact that teams tend to play very well when they’re forced to play with a shortened lineup. The two talked about how those teams play freely at both ends of the court because they have nothing to lose, and how their body language actually tends to be up.
Such was the case for the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in Cleveland as they played with only eight available players. Rajon Rondo (bruised shin), Jared Sullinger (sprained ankle), Jerryd Bayless (sprained knee) and Kris Humphries (sore knee) were all sidelined but it didn’t matter one bit. The C’s played freely and displayed great body language as they trounced the Cavaliers en route to a 111-99 win.
Boston dominated from the opening tip, leading by as many as 13 points during the first quarter. That lead grew to 18 points by the end of the first half.
The Celtics made sure to let the Cavaliers know that there would be no second-half comeback on this night. The C’s quickly scored the first eight points of the third quarter to open up a 26-point lead. That advantage eventually grew to as many as 33 points early in the fourth quarter and from there Boston cruised to its second straight win..
A quick look at the stat sheet will give you a very good indication of just how freely the Celtics played during this game. They shot 46.7 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from 3-point range while racking up 27 assists compared to just 11 turnovers. It's safe to say they did a heck of a job affirming the comments Stevens and Wallace made earlier this year.
Key Box Score Line
Phil Pressey took advantage of his rare start on Friday night at TD Garden. One night later in Cleveland, it was his best friend’s turn.
Kelly Olynyk got the seventh start of his career and he played like someone who could start for the rest of time. The rookie notched the third double-double of his season by totaling 25 points and 12 rebounds. Those 25 points matched his career high and his 12 boards set a new career high.
This was undoubtedly the most sparkling performance of the big man’s young career. He put in most of his work during the first half by notching 20 points before the break. Olynyk made nine of his 13 shots during the first 24 minutes of the game, many of which were smooth finishes off of drives to the basket. He also cashed in on two of his three 3-pointers during that time.
Olynyk’s second half wasn’t quite as impressive, but he still played very well in all areas. He scored five more points and grabbed four boards while also showing off his passing skills by dishing out three assists.
With only eight available players, the Celtics needed a performance like this to have a shot at winning. The same could be said on Friday night when Boston took on a hot Charlotte team while Rajon Rondo sat out. Fortunately for the C’s, they had their rookies waiting in the wing to answer the call. Pressey got it started Friday in Boston, and Olynyk followed suit Saturday night in Cleveland.
Box Score Nuggets
- Four Celtics scored at least 18 points for the second consecutive night. Four scored at least 19 in this game.
- Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley each scored a game-high 25 points.
- Olynyk tied his career high in scoring and set a new career mark in the rebounding department with 12 boards.
- Cleveland made two more free throws (20) than the Celtics attempted (18).
- The teams combined to commit just 23 total turnovers.
- Phil Pressey dished out 13 assists for the second time in as many nights.
- Boston scored at least 28 points in each of the first three quarters.
- Tristan Thompson and Spencer Hawes each grabbed 10 boards for Cleveland.
- Seven of the nine Cavs who appeared in the game scored in double-figures.
- Olynyk fouled out of the game.
- Joel Anthony and Jeff Green each blocked two shots, matching Cleveland's team total.
- Boston's largest lead was 33 points, while Cleveland's was just three.
- Seven players in the game grabbed one steal. None grabbed more than one.
Quote of the Night
I think you have to have a balance of action and motion. I think our guys are finding guys. Brad Stevens on Boston's improved offenseMore quotes >>