Game Preview: Cavaliers at Celtics

After experiencing his first home win since returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James will try to deliver another victory in his coach's homecoming.

In his return to Boston, David Blatt will attempt to guide the Cavaliers to a third consecutive victory Friday night against the Celtics.

James kept the Cavaliers' recent offensive momentum going with what was initially a triple-double in a 118-111 victory over New Orleans on Monday, the first home game since a 95-90 loss to New York in the season opener Oct. 30.

The NBA later took away an assist and a rebound, giving him 32 points, 11 boards and nine assists. Kyrie Irving also scored 32 points and Kevin Love hit six 3-pointers as Cleveland (3-3) produced back-to-back high-scoring games.

The Cavaliers shot 49.4 percent and connected on 13 of 27 3-point attempts from 3-point range, both season highs.

"This is special," said Irving, who also had nine assists and one turnover in 40-plus minutes. "We played well as a group."

The Cavaliers finished off a four-game road trip with a 110-101 win in Denver on Nov. 7 after averaging 96.5 points in their first four contests.

The Nuggets are one of the league's worst defensive clubs and Cleveland will get to face another in Blatt's return to Boston. The Cavaliers coach was born in the city and attended high school in nearby Framingham before leaving for Princeton then playing professionally in Israel.

"It's kind of special, but nothing that's going to keep me from doing my job to the best of my ability," Blatt said. "I was a Celtics fan growing up. I grew up listening Celtics' broadcast, Johnny Most, with a transistor radio stuck to my ear for many years. Bill Russell was my childhood hero.

"I have a lot of fond memories of the area, of the people and of the NBA game that I grew to love through following the Celtics."

Boston (3-4) will try to spoil that homecoming while shoring up a defense that's giving up 106.4 points per game. The Celtics failed in their attempt at a third straight win Wednesday with a 109-94 home loss to an Oklahoma City team that was missing stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Boston gave up 67 points in the second half.

"We did some good things. We did not sustain it," coach Brad Stevens said.

Rajon Rondo had a team-best 20 points and 12 assists after missing one game to have screws removed in his surgically repaired left hand. The Celtics were without Marcus Thornton (ankle), and won't have No. 6 overall draft pick Marcus Smart for at least two weeks because of a sprained left ankle and a bone bruise.

Dion Waiters, meanwhile, is considered probable to return for the Cavaliers after missing Monday's game with a bruised lower back.

If he plays, Waiters will try to help Cleveland end a three-game losing streak to the Celtics. Having James back on the team will likely provide a more significant boost as he's averaged 35.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists in his last five games in Boston, including the 2012 playoffs.

Even in James' previous stint with the team, the Cavaliers had their difficulties in Boston and have lost 16 of their past 20 visits, including the postseason.

Jeff Green averaged a team-best 23.0 points for Boston in last season's series, and Avery Bradley averaged 21.3 while shooting 61.9 percent.


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