Celtics/Cavs Preview: C's looking to build momentum

Celtics/Cavs Preview: C's looking to build momentum
April 5, 2013, 10:45 am
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BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are looking to build momentum heading into the postseason while Cleveland's nightmarish season can't end soon enough.

And yet these are the games, more than those against the Miami Heats and the New York Knicks of the world, that scare the you-know-what out of the Boston Celtics.

Far too often this season, the Celtics have made bad teams look unbeatable.

Two losses to Charlotte. Two losses to New Orleans. A pair of losses to Detroit.

All teams that truthfully had more to gain by losing to the Celtics than beating them, are why tonight's game against Cleveland is far from a give-me win.

There's Boston's penchant for playing down to the level of competition. And then there's Kyrie Irving who has been at his best against the Celtics.

He comes in averaging 26 points in five games against the Celtics. That's his second-highest scoring average against any opponent.

Keeping him from having a huge night will surely be one of the Celtics' primary goals tonight.

But more than anything they do against the Cavs, the Celtics have to make sure that they take care of themselves and that involves taking care of the business at hand which is to do what they're supposed to do against a team that has lost 10 straight ... extend their misery.

These are just some of the factors likely to come into play tonight. Here are some others as the Celtics look to build off of Wednesday's win over Detroit with another victory over a non-playoff club.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:  The Celtics have ranked among the NBA's top shooting teams most of this season, and they're off to a good start here in April. Although they've only played two games this month, the C's are shooting 51.3 percent from the field which ranks fourth in the league. For the season, Boston is ranked seventh while shooting 46.3 percent from the field.

MATCH-UP TO WATCH:  Avery Bradley vs Kyrie Irving: Bradley has looked a lot better the last couple of games scoring the ball, but a good game for him tonight will be predicated on how well he does at slowing down Irving is one of the most difficult players in the league to contain because of the variety of ways he can hurt teams and his unmistakeable feel for the game that for such a young player, is unusual.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Jordan Crawford continues to draw the praise of Celtics coach Doc Rivers with his play that includes him contributing in other ways besides scoring. In Boston's 93-92 win at Cleveland on March 27, Crawford had 12 points and four assists off the bench. Even more significant was his plus/minus ratio of +11 which was tops among all Celtics that game.

STAT TO TRACK:   No Kevin Garnett (left foot inflammation) has made scoring points in the paint even tougher for the Celtics. But in their last meeting against Cleveland, the C's did edge the Cavs 40-38 on points in the paint with the Jeff Green's game-winning lay-up at the buzzer putting the C's over the top in that category as well as the game itself.