Dec 19, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (left) dribbles the ball against Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics (20-20) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-32) Preview

In their second extensive (and final) West Coast trip of the 2012-13 season, the Cavaliers (10-32, 4-12 home)once again came away with only one victory. After starting off the tour with three straight losses, Cleveland finally mustered out a win against the Portland Trail Blazers. It was a classic case of catching a team at the right time, as the Trail Blazers had lost their last three contests after upstaging the Miami Heat in a hard-fought match before their losing streak. Portland has now lost their last six games, dropping below mediocrity once again. Cleveland will have the opportunity to catch a team such as the Boston Celtics (20-20, 7-12 away) that, like Portland, had gotten over hovering around .500, but is now stuck in a rough patch. Before we delve into more details, here is some information to get you ready for Tuesday night’s contest:

Opponent’s Blog: Hardwood Houdini

Venue: Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio

Tipoff: Tuesday, January 22 at 7 p.m.

Betting Line: Celtics by -4.5

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio

Where you can listen: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)

After falling to 14-17 earlier in the season, the Celtics started to find their way again at the same time that backup guard Avery Bradley was implemented back into the lineup. From that point on, Boston went on a six-game winning streak. Last week, however, was a turning point in regards to where the Celtics stand in trade rumor talks. The ship seemed to have been righted, but starting with a 12-point loss to the lowly New Orleans Hornets, Boston was stuck at .500 once again.

A heartbreaking loss to the Chicago Bulls and a 15-point drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Pistons now pits Boston at a three-game losing streak going into their Tuesday game with the Cavaliers. Just like when Cleveland met up with Portland last Wednesday, the Wine and Gold are catching the recently reeling Celtics at the perfect time for an unlikely victory. Their first matchup of the season didn’t go the way the Cavaliers would have hoped, but it was also the first game that center Anderson Varejao had missed since going down with a knee injury. Cleveland fans found out Monday that Andy will not be returning at any point during the 2012-13 season due to a developing blood clot from surgery.

Both teams have had their fair share of lows this season, even though Boston still holds the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But something that has always been consistent when any Cavalier team matches up against the Celtics is that Paul Pierce will show up with a big-time performance. He logged a season-high 40 points on 13-of-16 shooting from the field on December 19 when the Cavs visited TD Garden, and is currently leading Boston in scoring with an average of 19.0 points. There will most likely be a mix of players matching up against Pierce due to the threats of teammates and seasoned veterans Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. That means that Alonzo Gee, who could switch over to guarding Rondo from time to time, will have his hands full all night, thus creating a mismatch nightmare for the Cavaliers.

Speaking of Rondo, he was currently crowned with the honor of starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Although I respectfully disagree with this, I think that this will motivate Kyrie Irving to have an explosive game in front of the home crowd now more than ever. With Derrick Rose yet to return this season, Irving has become the most noteworthy one in the East even though Rondo still sticks to the traditional roots of a floor general (passing the ball and shying away from being the premier scoring threat). Irving’s game is more elevated on many more levels than Rondo’s, and I think we will see that showcased Tuesday night.

Tags: Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Paul Pierce

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