The Boston Celtics, following their 120-102 losing effort against the Chicago Bulls in their last contest, take the floor next against an elite frontcourt challenge in the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, in the wake of the Grant Williams suspension, interim head coach Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics are tasked with overcoming the absence of one of their premier depth pieces in order to avoid back-to-back losses.
Mazzulla, who met with reporters following Thursday’s practice, anticipates a challenging contest ahead against the Cavaliers, but views the matchup as an opportunity for the Celtics.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to just continue to see different things, use our depth and see how we can adjust to their size,” Mazzulla said, per NBC Sports Boston video. “But at the same time, we gotta focus on our strengths. We have speed, we have skill and we have a lot of space. So, it’s a good challenge for us. Good opportunity for our depth to kind of reinvent ourselves a little bit.”
The Celtics aren’t the only ones who will take the floor in the absence of one key contributor. Cavaliers All-Star point guard Darius Garland will remain sidelined with an eye injury, according to CBS Sports — after initially targeting the Celtics game as a potential return date.
“Big, big team,” Mazzulla said. “Playing very well together. Balanced team. Very good defensively. On the offensive end, they really work to find an advantage and make the right read. … It’s gonna be a great matchup for us we’re gonna continue.”
While Cavaliers No. 1 option Donovan Mitchell has kicked off his campaign on a tear, averaging 28.5 points on 44.3% shooting from the field, the 26-year-old three-time All-Star won’t be the only concern for the Celtics on the defensive end. Center Jarrett Allen (11.3) and forward Kevin Love (8.3) are combining to average nearly 20 rebounds a night. Meanwhile, the Celtics have undergone a massive frontcourt struggle, adjusting in the early season absence of defensive anchor Robert Williams.
The Celtics and Cavaliers will meet on Friday. Tipoff from TD Garden is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.