Cavs latest team to beat slumping Celtics

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Cavs latest team to beat slumping Celtics

CLEVELAND A three game losing streak. The Boston Celtics' biggest homer, head coach Doc Rivers, threatening to push for new players if things don't change soon.

So how did the C's respond against the 10-32 Cleveland Cavaliers?

As if the rhetoric from their coach and the losing ways meant nothing.

For most of the game, it was an emotionless, passionless performance by the Celtics, symbolic of how they have played all season.

And the Cavaliers took the C's lethargic play and used it to their advantage in pulling out a 95-90 win.

There were mental breakdowns, defensive lapses, poor shot selection - just about anything and everything that can be done to lose a game, the Celtics did on Tuesday.

Trailing 88-87, the Celtics had a chance to regain the lead only to have Kevin Garnett's fade-away jumper come up short.

Moments later, Kyrie Irving sprinted down court and finished an acrobatic lay-up to give the Cavs a 3-point lead with 52 seconds to play. He finished with 40 points.

Boston called a time-out, and had plenty of time to still win the game.

But the way their season has gone, the way they played on this particular night, there was little optimism outside of their huddle that they could still win the game.

And true to form, the Celtics squandered an opportunity to potentially tie the game or trim it to one point when Rajon Rondo missed a driving lay-up.

Garnett committed a foul moments later, and this game's outcome became a formality at that point.

As has been the case all season, the Celtics showed flashes of the promise that Rivers has been looking for all season.

But they were once again too few and too far between one another to make a serious impact on the game.

Boston (20-21) led on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, but simply could not do the little things - box out, don't turn the ball over, make open shots - that have to be done in order to win.

Although Tuesday's game wasn't decided until the final minutes of play, Cleveland was the latest team to get off to a good start with Cavs Kyrie Irving leading the charge.

The reigning Rookie of the Year award winner had 19 first-quarter points which was key to the Cavs leading 31-27 after the first.

Keeping the C's from getting blown out the gym was rookie Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger, who grew up in nearby Columbus, OH, had six points and seven rebounds in his first eight minutes on the floor. He had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the game.

His play was instrumental in the C's pulling ahead by as many as four points in the second quarter, only for Cleveland to regain the lead shortly after Irving re-entered and take a slim 54-53 lead into the half.

The inconsistent play that has been the identity of this Celtics team, was on full display once again.

There were moments in which the execution from defense to offense was seamless. But far too often the Celtics would do what they want defensively, only to take a bad or ill-advised shot. And when there was great ball movement offensively and it resulting in a Celtics basket, often the defense was break down and allow Cleveland an easy score.

The Cavs came into the game ranked dead-last in assists per game this season, with 19.4 per game. At the half, Cleveland had 13 assists.

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”