Celtics-Cavs preview: C's aim to 'play hard'

Celtics-Cavs preview: C's aim to 'play hard'
April 12, 2014, 10:00 am
Share This Post

BOSTON — That nine-game losing streak by the Boston Celtics is a thing of the past now, and there are plenty in Celtics Nation not happy about it being over.

When it became clear that the Celtics were not going to contend for the playoffs let alone a title this year, many fans became disenchanted with this idea of winning.

Because to them, winning games meant losing out on a few more ping-pong balls that just might speed up this rebuilding process more than a victory in April could.

As the Celtics were closing in on what eventually became a 106-103 win over Charlotte on Friday, fans turned to social media to voice their displeasure with the game's eventual outcome.

"At this point, winning this game would be stupid," tweeted Matt Wilson.

"What an awful win this would be," tweeted Jason Blake in the final moments before the win.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens knows how fans want the team to lose in order to improve their position in June's NBA draft.

Boston (24-55) is currently tied with Utah for the fourth-worst record in the NBA.

"All of us are disappointed in our overall record, and all of us are certainly aware of the talk, but that's not our task," Stevens said. "Our task is to play hard, coach as hard, and do right by the game. And I think that that's what those guys in the locker room have pretty consistently done. We've had a couple of clunkers, but we've had a lot of games like this and a lot of them that didn't go our way, unfortunately."

Here are some keys to tonight's game:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: This has the makings of a pretty ugly game, with both teams likely to show why they are among the NBA's worst this season. The Cavaliers are shooting just 43.6 percent from the field this season which ranks 27th in the league. The Celtics are even worse at 43.4 percent which ranks just behind the Cavs, at No. 28.

 MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Dion Waiters

 Bradley is coming off an impressive 22-point performance in Boston's 106-103 win over Charlotte on Friday night. He'll have to contend with a similar hot shooter in Dion Waiters who had a team-high 23 points in Cleveland's loss at Milwaukee on Friday.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  Kyrie Irving

Forget about whether Rajon Rondo (shin) will play. Anytime Irving is on the floor it's must-see TV. He is one of the NBA's most dynamic players who can basically do all that you want from the point guard position individually; that is, except lead his team to victory with some consistency.

STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics were able to ride the 3-point shot to victory on Friday night, connecting on 11 of their 23 attempts (47.8 percent). Opportunities for similar success should be there tonight against a Cleveland team that has been 3-point friendly to foes. The Cavs have allowed opponents to make 9.2 3-pointers  per game on 25 attempts, both league highs this season.