Dec 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Jordan Crawford (27) guards Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Game 81: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Preview


Dec 28, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics shooting guard Jordan Crawford (27) guards Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

LAST TIME OUT

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost the Milwaukee Bucks last night 119-114. No, seriously. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks last night by a final score of 119-114.

THIS TIME UP

The Opponent: Boston Celtics

Record: 24-55 (8-31 away)

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.

Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass

Where you can listen: WTAM 1100

Previous Matchup: Celtics 103,  Cavaliers 100 on Dec. 28, 2013

Opponent’s Blog: Hardwood Houdini

Injury Report

Celtics: G Rajon Rondo (QUESTIONABLE-shin), C Vitor Faverani (OUT-knee), F Gerald Wallace (OUT-knee)

Cavaliers: F Luol Deng (QUESTIONABLE-back), G C.J. Miles (QUESTIONABLE-ankle), G Carrick Felix (OUT-knee), F Anthony Bennett (OUT-knee)

What version of the Cavaliers’ show up?

As you may have heard, the Cavaliers lost to the Bucks last night. The loss came on the heels of the Cavaliers playing fantastic against the Detroit Pistons earlier in the week. It also, perhaps more importantly, came after the Cavaliers were eliminated from the playoffs by virtue of an Atlanta Hawks victory on the same night.

Thus, it will be interesting to see if the Cavaliers come out ready to play tonight. At this point, this team isn’t playing for anything other than pride. Whether the Cavaliers win or lose doesn’t affect postseason hopes (those are over) or where the team will likely draft this June (likely the ninth pick). As a result, let’s see how this team looks.

Let’s evaluate Tristan Thompson, shall we?

Outside of Kyrie Irving, no Cavalier has been more critiqued than Tristan Thompson. Granted, some of it has been deserved. The early season shooting improvements have somewhat gone away and his double-double performances are more spread out now than they were earlier in the season.

But over the last twenty games or so, Thompson was mostly looked like a starting-caliber power forward. Tonight should be a good gauge of this as well. In the three games against the Celtics, Thompson has struggled to defend Brandon Bass and the other mobile-ish Celtic bigs. This has been a overall trend this season, but this is the last real chance to observe Thompson in this light. Let’s enjoy it with killing FearTheSword’s David Zavac on Twitter, shall we?

Prediction

We are at this point with the Cavaliers were it’s unclear what we are going to get on a game-to-game basis. For instance, last night’s game against the Bucks should have been a fairly easy win for the Cavaliers. But instead, Cleveland looked out of sorts and couldn’t get in any sort of rhythm against the worst team in the NBA. And with the Cavaliers winless this season against another one of the NBA’s bottom dwellers, it’s tough to envision the Cavaliers totally blowing the Celtics out of the water.

However, the Cavaliers are a better team than the Celtics. The Cavaliers are at home, where its record is much better, and are fairly healthy. Give me the Cavaliers 101, Celtics 97. Just don’t expect it to be pretty.

Tags: C.J. Miles Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Luol Deng Popular Tristan Thompson