After coming just five points away from defeating the Golden State Warriors at home, the Boston Celtics (23-34) are hitting the road to take on another one of the best teams in basketball.
The Cleveland Cavaliers (37-24) will host the Celtics today in the midst of a two game losing streak. The Celtics are looking to extend that streak in the second of four matchups between these two teams this season.
Kendrick Perkins will be playing against the team he won a championship with in 2008. He is playing his fourth game as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Perkins is averaging 3.8 ppg and 5.3 rpg, but he has been in a real slump recently, averaging just 2.8 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in the month of February.
Perkins will be battling against Tyler Zeller under the rim who has been terrific recently, averaging 12 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the last ten games. He has also improved his defensive game, and is finding ways to use his size to his advantage. Zeller should definitely challenge Perkins for rebounds under the net.
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was recognized by the NBA as the Eastern Conference player of the week for the past week, and he certainly deserved it. Thomas has been averaging 21.8 points per game since joining the Celtics, and he has also been distributing the ball well, averaging 5.8 assists per game. It’s no surprise that the Celtics’ improved play of late has been due to the addition of Thomas.
Tonight, Thomas will have to defend one of the best point guards in the NBA, Kyrie Irving. Irving is averaging 21.7 points and 5.2 assists per game this season. His numbers are lower than they were last year, but he’s now sharing the ball with two of the best players in the league, and is still making the most of it.
LeBron James is one of those players, and is the hottest player in the league. He scored a season high 42 points on February 26th against Golden State, and 37 points last game against Houston. James has had massive games against some of the best players in the league.
The biggest task for the Celtics tonight will be finding someone to limit James. That may fall on the shoulders of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart or Jae Crowder. Whatever the case, the Celtics will have their hands full.
This is a terrible matchup for the Celtics. The small ball game of late has worked well against teams like Golden State which are more perimeter oriented. Cleveland just brings a stronger, bigger lineup that will likely give Boston fits.
Prediction: Cavaliers 113 Celtics 90