The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics collide for the third time this season after splitting their first two meetings. Will the Cavs continue rolling? Or, will the Celtics ambush Cleveland in Beantown?
Catch this game live on Thursday, December 23, at 8:30 AM, Manila time.
Away: Cleveland Cavaliers (19-12/10-5 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Darius Garland
- SG: Cedi Osman
- SF: Lauri Markkanen
- PF: Dean Wade
- C: Kevin Love
The Cavs are on quite a roll, as they have won all of their last six games. During that stretch, they have victimized some of the top teams in the East, including the Chicago Bulls (115-92), Miami Heat (105-94), and most recently last Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks on the road (119-90). However, some of Cleveland’s momentum might have worn off after their scheduled meeting with the Atlanta Hawks on Monday was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The Cavs’ roster has been depleted because of COVID-19, with Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Ed Davis to name some, all on the health and safety protocols list.
Fortunately for the Cavs, they are still left with healthy key players. Darius Garland, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Lauri Markkanen will look to carry Cleveland past the Celtics. Garland scored 22 points, while Rubio had 16 off the bench when the Cavs beat Boston at home on Nov. 14, 91-89. It’s also worth noting that neither Love nor Markkanen was around in the previous two meetings with Boston. Cleveland will meet the Celtics Thursday morning with a 15-2-1 record against the spread after a win.
Home: Boston Celtics (15-16/8-6 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Marcus Smart
- SG: Dennis Schroder
- SF: Jaylen Brown
- PF: Jayson Tatum
- C: Robert Williams III
Like the Cavs, Boston’s roster is ravaged by COVID-19-related absences. Al Horford, Grant Williams, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangomez, Sam Hauser, and Josh Richardson all didn’t play in the Celtics’ 108-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers last Tuesday at home. Robert Williams III also didn’t suit up for personal reasons, leaving Enes Freedom’s broken-turnstile defense to deal with Joel Embiid, who dropped 41 points in the game. The good news for Boston is that Williams is expected to return and they won’t see someone like Embiid again this Thursday at the post.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are also available, giving the Celtics a fantastic duo of two-way players. Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points in their 98-92 road win over Cleveland on Nov. 14. Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder had 14 points apiece in that contest as well. Brown, meanwhile, will be playing against the Cavs for the first time this season, and he should be able to manufacture ample production opposite a banged-up Cleveland lineup. The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games against Cleveland.
Spread: Both teams are shorthanded, but the Celtics should be steadier with their best two players around and a comebacking Robert Williams in the middle. Looking to take the Celtics (-5.5) here.
Over/Under: After two low-scoring meetings between the Cavs and Celtics, the Over (211.5) could be due.