Celtics Wrap: LeBron James, Cavs Victimize Ice-Cold C’s In 89-77 Loss

by NESN Staff

December 15, 2015

BOSTON — The Celtics have improved since the Cleveland Cavaliers swept them in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

They didn’t show it Tuesday night, however.

Boston put forth its worst offensive performance of the season and its defense couldn’t get stops down the stretch, allowing the Cavaliers to pull away for an 89-77 win at TD Garden.

LeBron James (24 points, seven rebounds, three assists) led the way for the Cavs, who trailed by six points at halftime but outscored Boston 49-31 over the final two quarters. Kevin Love added 20 points.

Avery Bradley was the Celtics’ high scorer with 17 points, as Boston shot an abysmal 32 percent (28 for 87) on the night and couldn’t seem to gain much of an offensive rhythm.

STARTING FIVE
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger

LOVE HURTS
Love went to work on the Celtics’ defense from the opening whistle.

The Cavs forward, whose last visit to TD Garden ended rather unceremoniously, dropped 11 points in the first quarter on 4 of 6 shooting. He went right after Amir Johnson, scoring several times on the Celtics forward with some nice post moves.

https://vine.co/v/im1ZEdBz9mr

Love also victimized the Celtics down the stretch, scoring five consecutive points midway through the fourth to halt a brief Boston run.

BAD BLOOD?
Celtics-Cavs certainly didn’t have a whole lot of energy in the game’s early stages.

TD Garden was relatively quiet for much of the first half, a bit of an oddity considering the apparent animosity that remains between both squads from last season’s playoff matchup. Neither team did much to excite the crowd, as the Celtics hit just 33 percent of their shots (6 for 18) in the second quarter, while the Cavs went 6 for 17.

It didn’t take long for things to get chippy, however. J.R. Smith got a little animated late in the second quarter after some pesky defending from Bradley and Crowder.

https://vine.co/v/im16JzgD1YP

TAKING OVER
The Cavs went on a 12-0 run early in the third quarter, and James led the charge.

Boston hit just three of its first 16 shots to start the half, and James and Co. took advantage, converting those misses into easy points in transition to erase their halftime deficit. LeBron also drew a collective gasp from the Garden crowd with this monster slam:

https://vine.co/v/im1F5BUlDM1

DEEP TROUBLE
Cleveland pulled away down the stretch thanks to some sharp shooting from distance.

Iman Shumpert drilled two 3-pointers as part of the Cavs’ 10-5 run to start the quarter that helped them open up a double-digit lead. The Celtics kept firing from deep but couldn’t keep pace, finishing the night with just 28 percent shooting (9 for 32) from downtown.

PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Bradley made the most of this halfcourt set in the first quarter thanks to a perfect pass from David Lee:

https://vine.co/v/im1hh3mDFhh

UP NEXT
It’s another home-road back-to-back for the Celtics, who will travel to Detroit to face the Pistons on Wednesday. The Pistons sit at 14-12 after losing in overtime to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. Tipoff at the Palace of Auburn Hills is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives to the hoop against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) during the first half at TD Garden.
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