After an unexpected three-day break between games, the Cleveland Cavaliers will try to maintain their momentum when they visit the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
Cleveland had won a season-high six straight games and 10 of its previous 12 before Sunday’s game at Atlanta was postponed due to the league’s latest COVID-19 outbreak.
Ahead of their scheduled Sunday evening tip-off, the Cavaliers placed center Jarrett Allen, forwards Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler and guards Denzel Valentine and RJ Nembhard into the league’s COVID health and safety protocols.
Center Evan Mobley and forward Isaac Okoro landed in COVID protocols last week.
On Monday, the Cavs added forward Justin Anderson and center Luke Kornet on 10-day contracts via the NBA’s hardship exception ahead of their matchup with the Celtics.
“You just have to navigate it,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff told the Akron Beacon Journal. “Understanding how you handle the basketball piece of it, how you try to make sure they still feel like they’re a part of it.”
In their most recent game last Saturday, the Cavaliers cruised to a 119-90 road win over defending champion Milwaukee. Cedi Osman scored 23 off the bench while Darius Garland had 22 points and six assists.
Garland has scored in double figures in all but one game this season and is averaging a team-best 19.1 points. The third-year guard is also averaging a team-high 7.3 assists.
Boston is coming off a 108-103 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday for its fifth loss in seven games as the team navigates its own COVID outbreak.
Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 30 points and Jayson Tatum added 17 points for the Celtics, who were down seven players due to COVID issues.
Boston starting center Al Horford, forwards Grant Williams, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangomez and Sam Hauser and guards Josh Richardson and Brodric Thomas were all sidelined in the protocol. Celtics center Robert Williams III also missed the game for personal reasons.
Boston led by as many as seven late in the fourth quarter before Joel Embiid took control of the game by scoring his team’s last nine points in the final 1:22 of play. Embiid finished with a game-high 41 points and 10 rebounds.
“We fell short, but we’ve got another opportunity on Wednesday,” Brown said. “In the middle of kind of everything that’s going on, on the court and off the court, everybody’s dealing with something. We’ve got to be able to adjust and still come out on top.”
Boston signed 15-year veteran swingman C.J. Miles on a hardship exception before Monday’s game after adding forward Justin Jackson on a 10-day deal last week.
The Celtics split their first two meetings against the Cavaliers this season, both of which were played in Cleveland. Garland scored 22 to lead the Cavs in a 91-89 victory on Nov. 13 before Tatum’s 23 points powered the Celtics to a 98-92 win two days later.
–Field Level Media