Stingy Celts Stymie Cavs in Garden Rematch

Cool-Shooting Cavaliers Fall Behind Early, Can’t Rally Late
Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyImages

Wrap-Up -- The Cavaliers have gotten plenty of production from their improved second unit all season long. On Wednesday night, they could’ve used a little more from their starters.

LeBron James and JR Smith notched double-figures for the Wine & Gold, but the remaining 60 percent of Cleveland’s starting five were a combined 5-for-27 from the floor as Boston blew past a flat Cavaliers squad, 102-88, on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

Pitting last season’s Eastern Conference Finals combatants against each other in a rematch of the home opener, the Cavaliers never really threatened the Celtics – falling behind by double-digits after one quarter and trailing the rest of the way.

The stingy Celtics are the East’s only team holding opponents under 100 points this season and they did so again on Wednesday night – sending the Cavaliers to an 0-5 mark when they fail to hit the century mark. On the night, Tyronn Lue’s squad shot just 34 percent from the floor while notching just 16 assists compared to 15 turnovers.

LeBron led the Cavaliers with 19 points, but he did most of his damage before intermission – going 7-for-9 from the floor for 16 points through the first two quarters but just 1-for-6 for three points in the second stanza. Overall, the four-time MVP added seven boards, six assists, a steal and blocked shot in 32 minutes of work.

JR Smith notched double-figures for just the second time since December 8, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Kevin Love, who left the game with a right ankle sprain late in the third quarter, struggled mightily on Wednesday – going just 1-of-11 from the floor for two points. Jae Crowder, in his anticipated return to Beantown, didn’t fare much better – netting just six points on 2-for-12 shooting.

Crowder, who spent three seasons with the Celtics, was given a nice video tribute during opening intros. Isaiah Thomas, who starred in his Cavaliers debut the previous evening – (but is not yet cleared to play back-to-backs) – was given a standing ovation in between the first and second quarter.

The Cavaliers did indeed get another solid night of production from their second unit against Boston.

Kyle Korver snapped out of a brief funk on Tuesday night against Portland and kept his roll going against the Celtics – finishing with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting from long-range. For the second straight night, Jeff Green earned most of his points at the line – going just 3-for-11 from the field but 7-of-7 from the stripe for 13 points.

Tristan Thompson notched his first double-double of the season, following up a solid effort on Tuesday with a 10-point, game-high 11-rebound outing against Boston.

But the Celtics also got big production from their second unit, with Youngstown native Terry Rozier leading all scorers – netting 20 points off the bench, going 8-of-12 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. Marcus Smart was almost as deadly, adding 15 points in 27 minutes of work off Brad Stevens’ bench.

Jeff Green

Five Cavs score in double figures but it's not enough to get the win in Boston.

Turning Point -- Wednesday night’s contest got away from the Cavaliers early – and they never completely recovered.

LeBron James scored Cleveland’s first two buckets of the night – one to put the Cavs up, 2-0, the second to give them a 4-2 lead. That truly was as good as it’d get for the rest of the night. Boston would proceed to close the quarter on a 22-12 run that put the Wine & Gold in an 11-point hole after one period.

The Cavs cut Boston’s lead to five in the second quarter, but things began slipping away in the second half, with the Celtics opening up a 20-point advantage midway through the third and not looking back the rest of the way.

By the Numbers1.000, .811 … Cavaliers’ free throw shooting percentage on Wednesday night (18-for-18) and this season overall – the latter good for second in the NBA. This season, Cleveland has connected on at least .800 from the stripe on 21 occasions, .900 or better eight times. Their 18-for-18 mark against Boston is tied for third-best in franchise history.

QuotableLeBron James, on Boston’s defense in Wednesday’s loss …

"Their defense was very good. They were very in tune to what we wanted to do execution wise offensively. We had some good looks at times, some of the looks were a little bit tougher, but they had a good defensive play and they executed very well.”

Up Next -- After falling to the Celtics on Wednesday night in Boston, the roadie rolls on – heading south to the Sunshine State, where the Cavaliers will try to avenge a home loss earlier this season against the Magic on Saturday night. It’s back into the cold on Monday night, as the Cavs travel to Minnesota for a matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns and the T-Wolves. The trip wraps up with a back-to-back – taking on the red-hot Raptors on Thursday night before closing out with the Pacers in Indiana on Friday.

Calls of the Game

#CavsCeltics Postgame: Kevin Love - January 3, 2018

Cavaliers center Kevin Love spoke with the media following Wednesday's loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.

Cavaliers at Celtics - January 3, 2018

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#CavsCeltics Postgame: Kevin Love - January 3, 2018

Cavaliers center Kevin Love spoke with the media following Wednesday's loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Jan 4, 2018  |  02:44

#CavsCeltics Postgame: LeBron James - January 3, 2018

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Wednesday's loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Jan 4, 2018  |  04:21

#CavsCeltics Postgame: Kyle Korver - January 3, 2018

Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver spoke with the media following Wednesday's loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Jan 4, 2018  |  04:18

#CavsCeltics Postgame: Coach Lue - January 3, 2018

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Wednesday's loss to the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Jan 3, 2018  |  03:15

Featured Highlight: KLove with the Rejection

Jayson Tatum thinks he has an easy layup but Kevin Love is there to send his shot away in this Goodyear 'More Driven' highlight.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:22

GAME RECAP: Celtics 102, Cavaliers 88

Isaiah Thomas did not play in his return to Boston as the Celtics would take down the Cavaliers, 102-88. Five Cavaliers scored in double figures but it wasn't enough in Beantown.
Jan 3, 2018  |  02:40

Tristan Powers Through Contact

Tristan Thompson, despite being held, somehow throws the shot up and gets it to fall, plus the foul.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:09

LBJ Spins for the Slam

LeBron James spins off the defense in the post and deposits the easy dunk.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:13

Korver Catches Fire in the 2Q

Kyle Korver cuts into the Celtics lead by canning four triples in the second quarter.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:44

DWade with the Hoop and the Harm

Dwyane Wade attacks the lane and gets the shot to fall, plus the foul.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:08

Tristan Muscles Home the And-One

Tristan Thompson gets physical in the paint and gets the strong bucket to fall, plus the foul.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:11

LBJ with the Fancy Finish

LeBron James goes coast-to-coast with the spin and tough finish.
Jan 3, 2018  |  00:19

Isaiah Thomas Talks in Boston

Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas spoke with the media prior to Wednesday's matchup against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.
Jan 3, 2018  |  08:54