Keys to the Game: Celtics 102, Cavaliers 88
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
One, two, three… shoot!
That’s what the Celtics did to open up the second half Wednesday night, and they didn’t miss.
Boston connected on its first four shots of the second half to build up a 66-52 lead over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, its biggest lead of the night to that point. And the final three shots of that stretch were one, two, three points from long distance.
Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum hit three straight 3-pointers in a matter of just one minute and 28 seconds during the stretch. Tatum played a role in the final two treys, which led to a timeout by the Cavs.
Horford swished home his 3-pointer from right in front of Cleveland’s bench, and he did so after a heck of a play from Tatum. Tatum possessed the ball at the top of the 3-point arc and threw a tight crossover on J.R. Smith. Tatum crossed over from his left to his right, beat Smith into the paint, and then threw a right-handed hook pass over his left shoulder out to Horford in the left corner.
Kevin Love missed a layup on Cleveland’s next possession, and three seconds after Jaylen Brown grabbed the miss, Tatum canned a 3-pointer in transition to push Boston ahead 66-52 with 9:18 remaining in the third period.
Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue called for a timeout immediately after Tatum’s 3-pointer, but that timeout came far too late. The process of an easy win was already well under way for the C’s.
Boston dominated the contest from that point on, pulling ahead by as many as 23 points before cruising to a 102-88 victory. This one was close at the break, but the Celtics broke it open with their red-hot shooting that opened up the third quarter.
Terry Rozier is well on his way to turning this Key Player section into the Terry Rozier section.
The reserve guard, who scored a game-high 20 points Wednesday night against Cleveland, has now found his name in this section for the third time in Boston’s last five games. Wednesday marked Rozier’s fifth straight game of scoring at least 13 points, and his 20-point night was the top performance of that run.
Rozier wasn’t perfect during this game, but he was darn close. He shot 8-for-12 from the field, including a 4-for-6 effort from long range.
His impressive performance wasn’t only about scoring, though. He also stuffed the stat sheet with four rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot during less than 20 minutes of action.
Hold on – 20 points in only 19-plus minutes of playing time? Yeah, that’s pretty good… better than even the king himself, LeBron James, who scored only 19 points in 32-plus minutes of action against Boston’s stifling defense.
Box Score Nuggets
- Six Celtics scored in double-figures, and all of them broke that mark by the end of the third quarter.
- Terry Rozier led all players with 20 points.
- Boston limited Cleveland to only 34.8 percent shooting from the field.
- Seven Celtics recorded at least one steal in the game.
- Both teams grabbed nine offensive rebounds.
- LeBron James led the Cavs with 19 points.
- Channing Frye, who played only 5:33 of the game, was Cleveland's only player who finished with a positive plus/minus rating. His rating was plus-seven.
- Kevin Love and Jeff Green each blocked two shots, as they individually matched Boston's team total.
- Kyrie Irving scored only 11 points, but Boston outscored Cleveland by 18 points while he was on the court.
- Eight Celtics grabbed at least four rebounds, led by nine from both Irving and Al Horford.
- Marcus Smart scored 15 points off the bench for Boston.
- Irving and James tied for the game high in assists with six apiece.
- Boston led by as many as 23 points, while Cleveland's largest lead was just two points.
- Six Celtics made at least one 3-pointer, led by four from Rozier and three from Marcus Samrt.
Quote of the Night
It's all about being able to be versatile and being able to switch ... Against LeBron, there's nobody that can guard him the whole game, so you have to throw as many bodies at him as you can... and then pray.
Brad Stevens on how Boston defended LeBron James (19 points).