Celtics-Cavaliers review: C's go cold in second half

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Celtics-Cavaliers review: C's go cold in second half

CLEVELAND Scoring droughts are nothing new for the Boston Celtics.

Even in their run towards Banner 18 in 2008, the C's had their share of offensive lulls.

But things are different now, and definitely not for the better.

"Offensively we have those flat periods," Rivers said. "And when we are good when we have those flat periods, we get stops. And right now, we're not when we have droughts."

That was one of the contributing factors to Boston's 95-90 loss to Cleveland, the C's fourth in a row.

Boston was especially atrocious in the third quarter, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

Fortunately for them, the Cavs were even worse in converting just 27.3 percent of their shots which allowed the Celtics to take a 73-70 lead into the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Courtney Lee with less than a second to play.

As bad as Boston was in the third quarter shooting the ball, they were even worse in the fourth as they connected on just 21.7 percent of their shots.

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving had almost as many points in the fourth quarter (15) as the entire C's squad (17).

"It's definitely frustrating when you get back in the game, and you defend the way you defend, you got one guy who really got it going ... it's right there in our hands," said Paul Pierce. "We had some good looks, missed a few lay-ups."

And with that, another missed opportunity for a win. Despite hitting the official halfway point with a below-.500 record (20-21), the Celtics still hold out hope that there's enough time to turn around the fortunes of their quickly-fading season.

They will get another shot at starting a new winning streak when they host the New York Knicks on Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Here are some of the factors outlined prior to Tuesday's game, and how those factors played out as the C's suffer a fourth straight loss for the second time 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.

WHAT WE SAW: That electric fence that the C's seem to feel surrounds the paint, was apparently up and active again. Boston had just 28 points in the paint compared to Cleveland which had 46.

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.

WHAT WE SAW: Irving came out as the aggressor and completely overwhelmed Rondo in the first quarter. Rondo made this matchup closer in the second and third quarters, but Irving's ability to take over in the fourth was the difference in the game - and to a large degree, this head-to-head matchup.

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.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett continues to have good but not great nights for the Celtics, tallying 16 points along with five rebounds, three assists and a season-high five blocked shots.

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.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's porous interior defense made for a passing frenzy for the Cavaliers as they exceeded their season average in assists with 21 after just three quarters of play. For the game, Cleveland had 24 assists.

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury

Amir Johnson a game-time decision for Game 4 with shoulder injury


CLEVELAND – Brad Stevens won’t know until shortly before tip-off tonight if he will have to make another lineup change.
 
Amir Johnson, whose right shoulder was injured in the Celtics' 111-108 Game 3 win on Sunday, is questionable for tonight’s Game 4.
 
“It’s better for sure,” Johnson told CSN this morning. “Yesterday, it was hard to lift. Today, I can move it all around. In shoot-around, I’m going to get a couple shots, see how it feels and go from there.
 
He added, “it’s definitely going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to go and shoot around, just to get a feel. And then for the game-time, I’ll shoot around some more, see how it feels and take it from there.”
 
Healthy or not, Johnson being with the starting group is far from a given.
 
The 6-foot-9 veteran has consistently been the first starter subbed out and usually winds up playing the fewest minutes.
 
In Game 3, two of his backups – Kelly Olynyk (15 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) – shined brightly.
 
Here are some other highlights from the Celtics’ morning shoot-around.
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Isaiah Thomas met with a hip specialist on Monday, according to Stevens. “Still collecting information,” said Stevens, adding, “We’ll wait and see or we’ll discuss second, and third, and fourth, and fifth opinions.”

Thomas injured his right hip March 15 and later re-aggravated it in the first half of the Game 2 loss Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
 
He was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup and Smart responded with a career-high 27 points in Game 3, which included seven made 3’s which is a career-best mark as well.
 
BOUNCE-BACK CELTICS: The Celtics winning Game 3 sent shockwaves throughout the league, especially coming on the heels of a 44-point home court drubbing at the hands of the Cavs. “If you’re in sports long enough you’re going to have clunkers,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have games that don’t go your way. And our guys took seriously the idea of responding and just playing the next possession as well as they could.”
 
ROZIER HOMECOMING: The second-year guard grew up in nearby Youngstown, Ohio (75 miles southeast of Cleveland), so you can expect he’ll have a decent contingent of fans at tonight's game.
 
While he’s all-in for the Celtics, the same is not true of his friends and some family members.
 
“My family does a good job of staying on my side except for my one younger cousin,” Rozier said. “She loves LeBron.”