At least Cleveland sports fans still have the Cavaliers.
The Cavs did their part to help Cleveland fans forget the World Series loss by remaining undefeated thanks to a 128-122 win Thursday over the Boston Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena. The C’s made things interesting by cutting the Cavs’ lead to five in the fourth quarter, but Cleveland held on for dear life to clinch the win.
Boston was without both Jae Crowder (sprained ankle) and Al Horford (concussion), but rookie Jaylen Brown filled in quite nicely in his first NBA start. Brown scored 19 points, and he also made an impact on the boards and defensive end. Avery Bradley (26 points) and Isaiah Thomas (30) led the way offensively for the Celtics.
LeBron James led all players with 30 points and 12 assists. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving both had 20-plus points, and Tristan Thompson had a double-double before halftime.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller.
NO HORFORD, NO CROWDER, LOTS OF PROBLEMS
The Celtics actually got off to a good start and were locked in a close, back-and-forth contest for much of the first quarter. But the Cavs finally broke through against the undermanned C’s with a 14-4 run to close out the frame with a 36-25 advantage.
Thompson led the way during that stretch, and James played facilitator by setting up 3-pointers for Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert. Thompson was on fire, and he finished the first only two points shy of a double-doube. Bradley, meanwhile, led the way for the C’s with eight points.
WELCOME TO THE STARTING LINEUP, JAYLEN
It’s hard to find many positives in how the Celtics played in the first half, especially on the defensive end. They did allow 68 points, after all. But if you’re looking for a silver lining, look no futher than Brown. The rookie made his first career NBA start in his fifth game with the C’s, and his welcome gift was going head-to-head with James. But Brown more than held his own, scoring nine points in 16 minutes before halftime.
He also helped hold James to six points in the first half, although he still made a big impact with eight assists. Irving led the Cavs with 15 points, and he was one of four Cleveland players to hit double digits in scoring before the break. Thompson was one of those, as he earned his double-double pretty quickly.
For most of the third quarter, it appeared as though the Celtics were on the verge of making it a game. They got to within 11 points on multiple occassions, but their defecit ballooned back up to 100-83 heading into the fourth. And James was a major reason why thanks to his 20 points in the quarter.
The Celtics once again made things interesting in the fourth quarter, as they cut their deficit to as little as five on two separate occassions. However, Cleveland did just enough to hold on despite never really pulling away.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Now this was impressive.
The Celtics will get a few days off before they return to the court at TD Garden on Sunday for a 7:30 p.m. ET matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images