Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Time to 'play right'

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Celtics-Cavaliers preview: Time to 'play right'

CLEVELAND -- The temperature is unusually chilly this time of year -- and it's pretty cold outside, too.

The Boston Celtics are not in a good place right now, in so many areas. Their offense doesn't seem to have a flow to it. There are too many defensive breakdowns. And it's to the point where even the cool-as-they-come Doc Rivers is close to reaching his breaking point with this group.

Rivers could not contain his frustration after a 103-88 loss at Detroit on Sunday, a game in which the Celtics never led.

"I gotta either find the right combination or the right guys, or we're going to get some guys out of here. That's the bottom line," Rivers said at the time. "This group right now, they're not playing right. It's in them to play right."

They will get that chance tonight against a Cleveland team that has had its share of issues all season.

Here are some of the keys to tonight's game, with the Celtics looking to snap a three-game losing streak and avoid slipping below .500 and avoid a second four-game losing streak this season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Celtics have not been attacking the lane as much as they should, but that should change tonight. The Cavaliers' interior defense is indeed one of their weaknesses. In fact, Cleveland ranks dead-last in blocked shots (3.5) per game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs. Kyrie Irving. Rondo may be an All-Star starter, but Irving is progressing towards being one of the NBA's better playmakers. And like most young guards in the league, facing Rondo tends to bring out the best in him.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett has been solid of late, but the C's really need him to have one of those dominate performances that he's good for every now and then. Without Anderson Varejao (blood clot, out for the season) in the mix, the chances of Garnett delivering a huge game become much, much greater for the Celtics.

STAT TO TRACK: Ball movement has been an issue for the Cavaliers most of this season, a trend the C's would like to see continue tonight. Cleveland averages just 19.4 assists per game which ranks 29th in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Celtics' defense has limited opponents to 21.4 assists per game this season which ranks 12th in the league.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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0:41 - Celtics are reportedly trying to trade for Paul George and sign Gordon Hayward. Kevin O’Connor joins BST to break down how the Celtics could fit both players under the cap and what Boston would have to give up to acquire George. 

6:37 - Kevin O’Connor joins Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, and Tom Curran to talk about Blake Griffin, what kind of contract he could get, and if Griffin could be a better fit over Gordon Hayward. 

10:13 - With Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Phil Perry joins Tom Curran to discuss how Robert Kraft getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame might not be as easy of a process as you think. 

14:05 - If the Celtics were to add George and Hayward or Griffin, would they be a better team than the Cavaliers? Curran, Giles, and Smith discuss.