After and extended break over Christmas week, the Boston Celtics climbed back into the ring to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-100 in a Saturday matinee at the TD Garden.
Despite suffering a slight injury in practice earlier this week, Avery Bradley was active for today’s game. Cleveland center Andrew Bynum did not travel with the team after being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. For more on this really strange situation, click here.
The first quarter saw the Celtics take a slight lead over the Cavs 24-22 on the back of Jeff Green who found his stride in the game early scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting adding to the team total of 8 assists and 10 field goals.
The Celtics bench, while being relatively inconsistent through the first 29 games of the season, were showing off today on the strength of play from Courtney Lee. Lee added 8 points off the bench including 2 three-pointers, and lead the way for other the rest of the Celtics bench to help secure the lead heading into half time 59-44. This was as close to a late Christmas gift as you can get for coach Brad Stevens. The Celtics moved the ball expertly, forcing Cleveland to turn the ball over, were shooting 58% with 16 assists and 25 field goals.
In an extremely welcome change of pace, the Celtics kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter extending and maintaining their lead 85-66.
Jared Sullinger’s CTL+ALT+DEL plan must have been the trick that the Celtics needed to get back to their winning ways, because this team was rolling from the opening minutes. Brandon Bass was hitting threes. That again- Brandon Bass drilled a corner three with 7 seconds on the shot clock.
Through the third quarter, the Celtics were 9-for-21 from 3-point range, amassed 20 assists, and outscored the Cavs 26-22 in the quarter to break the cycle of disastrous play right after halftime.
Never one to make it easy on themselves, the Cavs started to chip away at the Celtics and were able to narrow the gap to 86-74 midway through the fourth quarter. Even Anthony Bennett, the much maligned first round draft pick of the Cavs, even started scoring.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Cavs were dead set on making this a game narrowing the gap to within striking distance for the last 3 minutes of the game. Outscoring the Celtics in the fourth quarter 34-17, the Cavs game within an inch of erasing another Celtic lead for the win in the closing minutes of the game, but Boston was able to hold on (barely) for the win. 103-100.