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NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction - Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Can the Cavaliers pull off the upset against a Celtics side likely to be without Kyrie Irving?
Jason Mills
Modified 25 Mar 2019, 22:45 IST
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the third worst team in the NBA with the 2018-19 season approaching its end. It is hard to believe that a year ago the Cavaliers were third in the Eastern Conference and were headed to the NBA Finals.

This year, LeBron James is in Los Angeles with the Lakers, having signed there as a free agent. There were also a series of moves that saw J.R. Smith held out of the line-up, Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Rodney Hood all traded.

The Cavaliers have won just 19 games in the process of rebuilding. They have also only dressed power forward/center Kevin Love for 19 games due mostly to injuries. 

As of March 11th, 2019, however, the Cavaliers have been a difficult opponent. Since then, they have beaten the Raptors, lost to the 76ers by just 7 points, and last week they beat the Pistons and Bucks. The common denominator is those opponents are all essentially playoff-bound teams and added proof that you cannot take any opponent lightly in the NBA.

It is on that note that the Boston Celtics arrive in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena to face the Cavaliers Tuesday night. The Celtics at one time were everybody's favorite to dominate the East, however, they are currently 5th overall in the Conference and 5-5 in their last 10 games.  

The Celtics also have a losing road record at 17-19 and have lost 4 straight games.

Celtics Expected Starters:

Denver Nuggets v Boston Celtics Oklahoma v Virginia
Denver Nuggets v Boston Celtics Oklahoma v Virginia

Head coach Brad Stevens will probably choose to rest Kyrie Irving Tuesday night with the NBA playoffs fast approaching. Al Horford, who missed games around the Christmas Holidays due to a sore knee, sat out Sunday night's game with the same issue and could miss Tuesday night against the Cavaliers. 


Expect the Celtics to start G-Marcus Smart, G-Terry Rozier, F-Marcus Morris, F-Gordon Hayward, and C-Aron Baynes.

Cleveland Cavaliers Expected Starters:

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

The Cavaliers will likely start guards Brandon Knight and Collin Sexton, center Kevin Love and forwards Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr.

Expectations and Prediction:

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets

Point guard Collin Sexton has been among the top rookie performers in the 2018-19 NBA season. He is averaging 16.2 ppg so far this season. He is 4th in rookie scoring behind Luka Doncic, Trae Young and DeAndre Ayton. One area he needs improvement is his assist to turnover ratio. He only averages 2.8 apg but 2.2 turnovers per game. 

The Cavaliers have 7 double-digit scorers but do struggle to score overall, ranking just 28th in the NBA at 104.4ppg. The Cavaliers also only have an average of 20.8 assists per game.

The Cavaliers take just 87.5 shots per game which is third from bottom in the NBA so they need to make the shots they take. However, they are 29th in the association when it comes to field goal percentage at 44.2%. This explains their offensive limitations as they don’t take enough shots and then shoot themselves out of games by not making enough of them. 

Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance are their best players regarding field goal percentage at 52.6% but they do most of their work around the basket and take 16.1 shots per game combined. 

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics

The Celtics will be looking to move the ball to find open shots and are 6th in the NBA at 26.4 assists per game which illustrates this fact. While Kyrie Irving who is averaging 7.1apg may not play, the Celtics get 4.1 assists per game from Marcus Smart and 3.4 assists per game from Gordon Hayward. 

The Celtics are averaging 90.5 shot attempts per game and 112.5ppg which ranks them 11th best in the association. If Irving does not play, it's not inconceivable for the Celtics to make up his 23 points per game as they have lots of talent with Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown to pick up the slack.

Their 3-point shooting is quite good as well. They average 36.3% from long range and the Celtics employ 6 players who shoot 35% or better from long range including Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics have made an average of about 13 3-pointers per game this season. 

Finally, the Celtics take extremely good care of the basketball. They only give up 12.9 turnovers per game but force 15.2 turnovers per game out of their opponents.

The Celtics really should win this game. They are clearly the more experienced and talented team. However, it is late in the season and they have yet to show us their championship aspirations on an NBA court. 

In the meantime, the Cavaliers have shown an ability to play on par with good teams lately. This game should wind up as a 7 point victory for the Boston Celtics.

Published 25 Mar 2019, 22:45 IST
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