Cleveland (15-7) at Boston (14-10)
When: Tuesday, December 15th 2015
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: NBA TV
The Cleveland Cavaliers are slowly getting healthy again and that’s bad news for the rest of the Eastern Conference. Tonight, they head to Boston to take on the Celtics at TD Garden. Shooting guard Iman Shumpert, who’s been out all season with a wrist injury, returned to the lineup on Friday and played 24 minutes. He hit 5-of-7 shots including two three-pointers and totaled 14 points in his return. He came back just in time as J.R. Smith had to sit out Friday’s 111-76 win at Orlando with an illness. Star point guard Kyrie Irving is practicing again, but isn’t expected to make his debut Tuesday. Cleveland swept Boston in four games in last year’s first round of the Playoffs and Irving was a big part of that. He averaged 23.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in the series. LeBron James sat out last week’s loss at Miami for rest, but has come back refreshed hitting 24 of his 39 shots the last two games. Cleveland lost three in a row to start the month of December, but have since won their last two including their most impressive win of the season on Friday. “I just thought we played a full game, from the very beginning, all the way throughout,” Cleveland coach David Blatt told reporters afterwards.
The Boston Celtics suffered a heart-breaking double-overtime loss to previously unbeaten Golden State on Friday night, but bounced back the next night with a 99-93 win at Charlotte. The Celtics have been playing well winning five of their last seven overall and sit just a game back of Toronto in the Atlantic Division. Isaiah Thomas had chances to win Friday night’s game at the end of regulation and overtime but came up short both times. The 5’9″ point guard bounced back with 21 points and 13 assists in the victory over the Hornets to post his second straight double-double. Thomas averaged 17.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting, including 3-of-18 from 3-point range, in the four-game series against the Cavaliers last April. Boston ranks 6th in the league averaging 103.7 points a game despite their poor shooting (43.5%). Defensively, they hold their opponents to about the same percentage (43.2%), which ranks 8th in the NBA.
With Cleveland getting healthier, I believe they’re about to go on a big run. It’s a small number to lay even though the Celtics are a better team than what the Cavaliers saw last April.
Pick: Cavaliers -2