The Celtics (25-55) led by as many as 33 points and held the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-49) to 16 third-quarter points to run away with the victory.
Phil Pressey matched his career high with 13 assists and a shorthanded bench did just enough to enable Boston to win. Three players scored 15 points each for the directionless Cavs.
Fourth quarter, 5:06, Celtics 107-83: This is the part where Brad Stevens normally would pull his starters. Except, he can’t. His starters are basically all he has.
What’s left of the Celtics roster is finishing off an absolute beatdown by Lake Erie. This performance is downright embarrassing for the Cavs. They’re not even attempting to play defense now, just letting Pressey or whichever ballhandler drive easily into the lane.
At least Pressey is capitalizing. He has 12 assists, one short of the career high he set Friday night.
Fourth quarter, 9:01, Celtics 98-65: Chris Johnson has his basket. And everybody else got a couple, too, for good measure.
After Green cleared everybody out to back down Jarrett Jack and missed a short fadeaway, Johnson sneaked into the paint, nabbed the offensive board and scored a putback. Everyone who has logged minutes for Boston has now scored.
Nice work, Cleveland.
End of third quarter, Celtics 89-58: Even the Celtics can’t blow this lead, can they?
Olynyk and Bradley keep pouring it on, each scoring 25 points to lead Boston’s offensive explosion. They’re shooting 46 percent from three and have committed only seven turnovers as a team.
The Celtics have led by as many as 31 points, with every player scoring a basket except Chris Johnson. Babb got his on a corner three, out of a kick-out by a driving Johnson.
If you’re the Celtics, it’s time to get CJ a bucket. That’s all you really have to accomplish now, aside from actually winning the game.
Third quarter, 6:40, Celtics 72-51: Say this much for Mike Brown: He doesn’t get cheated on his timeouts.
After the Cavs scored nine unanswered points to pull within 17, the Celtics responded with layups by Bass and Green to cross the 20-point lead margin again.
With that, Brown wants a timeout. Hey, you can’t take them with you.
Third quarter, 10:44, Celtics 68-42: The Cavs look lost after getting blitzed to begin the second half. Don’t they know that’s usually the Celtics’ job?
A Bass jumper and a Bradley three finish off an 8-0 run by the Celtics to begin the third quarter, forcing an early timeout by Mike Brown. The Celtics have their largest lead of the game at 26 points, and when you’re trailing the Celtics by 26 points, you have some issues.
Halftime, Celtics 60-42: Kelly Olynyk just had his best first half of his career, dropping 20 points to lead the Celtics to almost that large a lead.
Triples by Jeff Green and Avery Bradley helped pushed the Celtics’ lead to a game-high 18 points as Olynyk is doing whatever he wants against the Cavs. No big man is covering him one-on-one and no guard is dropping down the help.
Seriously, Cavs. I know it’s only Olynyk, but at some point you have to adjust for a guy who is hot.
Olynyk is also just two rebounds shy of a double-double already and Phil Pressey has seven assists leading a crisp Boston offense. The Celtics have 14 assists on 22 field goals and are 6-for-13 from downtown.
Kyrie Irving leads the Cavs with 13 points, but his backcourt mate, Dion Waiters, doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself. He’s 3-for-10, so perhaps he’s just frustrated, but if there were an NBA award for Best Body Language, Waiters might come in last.
Second quarter, 3:23, Celtics 45-38: The officials have tightened up here in the second and it’s not working in Boston’s favor. Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving have gotten to the foul line a total of 10 times, converting eight of the freebies.
Second quarter, 6:22, Celtics 41-28: Some teams hold bobblehead night. The Cavs apparently held Tip Dunk Night.
Avery Bradley followed Pressey’s putback slam by cleaning up Olynyk’s mess and throwing down the miss. The Celtics have just four offensive rebounds, but they are making them count.
Second quarter, 8:39, Celtics 36-24: Not surprisingly, the Cavs have made some headway against Boston’s bench. But it’s not nearly as much as they should.
The Cavs briefly pulled within six points with Chris Babb, Joel Anthony and Chris Johnson all on the floor together. Yet the Celtics’ makeshift second unit regrouped and pushed its lead back to a dozen, thanks to Olynyk’s scoring.
The rookie looks confident out there, hitting four of his six shots, including 2-for-3 from downtown, to score 10 points. He’s the first player in double figures and doesn’t look hesitant to shoot, as he has for much of the season.
And when Phil Pressey is doing stuff like this, you know it’s going well for the Celtics.
End of first quarter, Celtics 28-16: Here’s something different: The Celtics are in a laugher early on, but it’s them doing the laughing.
The Cavs couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, bricking 18 of the 24 shots they have attempted. Meanwhile, the Celtics are feeding off Jeff Green’s aggression. Green, who had his heart procedure performed not far from Quicken Loans Arena, leads all scorers with eight points after one quarter.
Green is being aggressive, which is all Celtics fans ever ask of him. He’s just 2-for-6 from the field, but he’s gotten to the foul line, where he is 4-for-6. Getting to the stripe has helped Green and the Celtics overcome a 2-for-7 start beyond the arc.
First quarter, 7:56, Celtics 15-7: The starters are going to have to do a number for the Celtics, because there won’t be much relief coming from the bench.
So far, so good for the Celtics. The starting five has hit five of its eight shots, including 3-pointers by Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley. They’ve forced Cleveland to miss seven of its 10 shots, showing that the Celtics are capable of doing it at both ends of the court.
7:28 p.m.: The Celts will have all of three players on their bench for this game, as Humphries is a no-go. That means Joel Anthony, Chris Babb and Chris Johnson are your Celtics substitutes tonight.
6:43 p.m.: With Kris Humphries working hard to try to play tonight, Kelly Olynyk may get another shot at the starting lineup.
Olynyk will replace Jared Sullinger, who sprained his ankle in Friday’s win over the Bobcats, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Cleveland. This will be Olynyk’s seventh start of the season and his first start since Nov. 22.
Stevens also told reporters that Jerryd Bayless’ MRI was negative and that the guard could join the team for Monday’s game in Philadelphia. Rajon Rondo, as anticipated, will not play.
The projected starting lineups appear below.
4 p.m. ET: A defiant Jared Sullinger declared that he absolutely would play against the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it looks like it ultimately wasn’t Sullinger’s call to make.
Sullinger will miss Saturday’s game for the Boston Celtics with a sprained left ankle, the team announced. He will join Rajon Rondo (shin) and Jerryd Bayless (knee) on the shelf, with Kris Humphries (knee) a game-time decision. The Celtics (24-55) are figuratively and literally limping to the finish. [tweet https://twitter.com/celtics/status/455048247116324864 align=’center’]
The Cavs (32-48) were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this week, but for all intents and purposes, they have been out of contention for months. Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks — yeah, the Bucks — was Cleveland’s third defeat in four games, nullifying a late-season push to enter the postseason conversation.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.