The Wine & Gold were just short on magic – and bodies – on the second leg of their two-game set with the Celtics, running out of gas late in the affair and dropping the 98-92 decision on Monday night.
Still without their leading scorer – Collin Sexton – along with Lauri Markkanen, Kevin Love and Lamar Stevens, the Cavaliers didn’t have the services of starting center, Jarrett Allen, who was out with a non-COVID-related illness and lost Evan Mobley in the fourth quarter of Monday’s contest with a right elbow sprain.
Neither team was especially sharp on Monday, each failing to reach 40 points at intermission. But after the Cavaliers led by as many as 11 points in the first half, Boston took a slight lead in the third quarter and led by as many as nine in the fourth.
The Cavs cut Boston’s edge to a single point twice in the final three minutes, but Dennis Schroder answered each time – finishing with six of the Celtics final eight points as they pulled away for the win.
With so many starters on the bench, J.B. Bickerstaff got excellent production from Ricky Rubio and Cedi Osman.
Rubio notched a game-high 28 points, going 9-for-20 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from long-range and 6-of-7 from the line, adding six boards and a pair of assists.
Cedi came off the bench to tally a season-high 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc, to go with five assists and two steals in the loss.
Darius Garland added 17 points, going 6-of-15 from the field to go with a pair of assists and a steal.
The Wine & Gold’s prized rookie, Evan Mobley, had his roughest outing of the season against the seasoned Al Horford before missing most of the final period – missing all 11 field goals he attempted, finishing with just a single point. The former USC standout still led the Cavaliers with nine boards, tied Cedi with five assists and had two of Cleveland’s three blocks.
Jayson Tatum led Boston with 23 points, adding eight boards and five assists in the win. Horford led the Celtics with nine rebounds to go with 17 points and his outstanding defense against Cleveland’s talented young big.
The Cavaliers shot 39 percent from the floor but still canned 16 triples, their second-best output of the season. But with most of Cleveland’s big lineup sidelined, Boston held advantages in points in the paint, 42-28, and on second-chance scoring, 11-6.
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Cedi Osman sinks it from downtown in the 4th quarter off of the assist from Darius Garland.
Despite the ugly offense, the Cavs were in control through much of the first half, but things tightened up considerably in a third quarter that featured seven ties and five lead-changes.
But Boston heated up in the final period, running out to a 10-2 lead that gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the night, 75-66, on Grant Williams cutting dunk just over two minutes into the fourth.
The Cavs outscored Boston, 21-13, over the next seven minutes and got to within a point on Ricky Rubio’s two made free throws. But they couldn’t get over the top and fell for just the second time this month.
BY THE NUMBERS
By the Numbers - 418 … three-pointers that Cedi Osman has drilled in a Cavaliers uniform – moving him past Mo Williams (414) and into 9th on the franchise’s all-time list.
The 5th-year man has now scored in double-figures in six of his last nine games, topping the 20-point mark twice while shooting 43 percent (29-of-67) from long-distance over that stretch.
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff, on the squad battling despite being down so many bodies …
”All the things that happened, we were still in a tight ballgame and had a shot at it. All the guys who played tonight just did a little more. They fought, they scrapped. So my hat’s off to our guys, fighting shorthanded.”
The next time the Cavaliers will see the Celtics, they’ll do so in Beantown in the final regular season game before Christmas as Cleveland wraps up its four-game homestand. Up next, they’ll travel to Brooklyn for a Wednesday night matchup with the Nets at Barclays Center.
After returning from the Big Apple, it’s another four-game homestand – beginning with a visit from Steph Curry and the Warriors on Thursday to complete the mid-week back-to-back. After a well-earned weekend off, the Cavs welcome Brooklyn to town next Monday, followed by visits from Phoenix (Wednesday) and Orlando (Saturday) to wrap up the extended stay.