Jan 22, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) makes a layup while being fouled by Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers (22-52) at Boston Celtics (39-36) Preview

Jan 22, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) makes a layup while being fouled by Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) in the fourth quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

For the third straight game, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be taking on team currently in line to make the playoffs from the Eastern Conference when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics. With Kyrie Irving likely to play, the Cavaliers will have an advantage at the point guard position – but that’s about it. In all likelihood, this going to be another loss for the Cavaliers in this lost season.

Opponent’s Blog:  Hardwood Houdini

Venue: TD Bank Garden Arena

Tipoff: 7:30 PM ET

Betting Line: Boston by 6 ½

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio

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

 

For the Cavaliers, as it is every game here on out, it’s about seeing what kind of the play the young talent puts forth. Tonight is going to be a good look for that, as even as they have dealt with several injuries, they have some really good players that are established in the league. At point guard, Avery Bradley is a strong defender who is going get up in Irving’s grill and push him. Paul Pierce will push the wings. Overall, it is going to be interesting to see how the Cavaliers young guys play against the veteran Celtics.

But if the Cavaliers want any hope of winning this game, everything is going to have to click. Players like Wayne Ellington and C.J. Miles (regardless of those who starts) are going to have to hit their shots consistently – especially the three point shot. Alonzo Gee is going to need to get up into Pierce and make him work for his buckets.

Tyler Zeller, in my mind, is incredibly important. At his best, he runs the floor well and scores in transition. At his worst, he’s physically beat up and is a nonfactor because he can’t bang on the inside. Which ever Zeller shows up will be areal indicator of what Cavaliers team will show up in the TD Garden.

For the Celtics, their offensive should be fine tonight. Wings Jeff Green and Pierce are going to get there against a Cavaliers team that isn’t exactly strong on defense from the wing. But where else their points come from is up in the air.

This is a problem they’ll be facing for the rest of the season as they head into the playoffs. And as the seventh seed in the East, a matchup with the New York Knicks looms. Quite honestly, that matchup isn’t a nightmare like a matchup with the Miami Heat would be. The Knicks have had injury troubles as of late and, if the Celtics can get hot, they could win that series. After all, they only need to steal one when they play at Madison Square Garden.

But for tonight, there is not a good way for the Cavaliers to win this game. The Celtics, with all their troubles, are the better team. This game is all about –as I have wrote numerous times – seeing what this Cavaliers is made of and what pieces they can  build around. Tonight is a good as night as any to find out.

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Tags: Avery Bradley Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Paul Pierce Tyler Zeller

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