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Friday night the Boston Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 pm EST. The  two squads will be meeting for the second time in just nine days and a victory for Boston would mark their 40th of the year. If you missed the action last Wednesday, then you didn't get to see Jeff Green's late game heroics that gave the Celtics a 93-92 edge at Quicken Loans Arena. Although the buzzer beating lay in was exciting to watch, I'm sure Doc and the gang would prefer they have a comfortable lead in the final minutes of tomorrow night's fourth session.

Let's face it, the fact that the Cs needed a last second shot to knock off the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers is discouraging to say the least. However, there were a few things from March 27th that I would like to see repeated in the rematch. Boston shot the ball particularly well that night, posting a team slash line of 45/36/71. The only shooting percentage that Cleveland had in it's favor was that of the three pointer (41%) but I'm taking that with a grain of salt and the reason is simple. Cleveland attempted 3 more three point field goals than Boston, converting on two of them, but those two buckets from long range become irrelevant when you take a look at each team's success rate at the charity stripe. The Celtics shot 28 free throws and knocked down 20 of them while the Cavs took just 14 and made 9. Whenever you can double your opponents trips to the line your chances for a W drastically improve. 

The discrepancy in free throws proves that the Cs were the aggressor that evening. They were taking the ball to the rim with confidence and embraced contact in the lane. On the other hand, those three extra treys the gold and wine took simply prove that Doc's guys were executing their half court defensive rotations well. Therefore, Boston was guilty of just 15 team fouls as opposed to Cleveland's 22. Should the Celtics get the advantage at the line once again, they should be in good shape.

In addition to team numbers, I'd also like to see big performances from the likes of Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and maybe Paul Pierce depending on if he suits up or not. Last time out Green and Bass accounted for 43 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists collectively. The two forwards have really stepped up in the absence of Kevin Garnett and there's no reason why their productive play would cease tomorrow night. As far as Pierce is concerned we would like to see a performance similar to the 19, 10, and 8 he came up with when Boston and Cleveland last butted heads. Like I said though, the Captain's status for the contest is uncertain so don't be surprised if he sits this one out to rest his bum right ankle. If he does indeed take the night off then Avery Bradley is going to have to be the guy to fill the void. Bradley's been hot lately but he was anything but that in the last meeting (3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1/7 FG). He won't have to play out of his mind offensively due to Green's ability to put up 25-30 points with ease but I'm looking for anything between 10-15 points from the Texas product. 

Defensively, the Celts should look to do exactly what the did before. The only thing that's changed since the last match-up is Kyrie Irving's return to action. With that said, I'm not scoffing at Irving and his skills because he is most definitely a top-5 point guard in this league. But if Avery Bradley can do a good job containing him then the rest should fall into place. Besides Irving this Cleveland team doesn't have any legitimate scoring threats in their rotation. You could argue that Dion Waiters is the guy but I'd hardly consider 41% from the floor and 31% from downtown to be threatening. Of course, just like Pierce, it depends on Waiters' availability for this one because he is nursing an injury of his own. 

Bottom Line

I know it seems like a long-shot but the Celtics will walk away victorious if they can do a better job on the boards this time around. The Cavs collected 46 boards to Boston's 37 in the previous game which is why it remained close throughout. Six guys on the Cavaliers had 4 or more rebounds including 9 apiece from their young bigs, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. Look for Shavlik Randolph to play more than 9 minutes this time and that should help the Celtics' cause significantly. 

Injury Report

Boston Celtics - Paul Pierce, Questionable (Ankle), Terrence Williams, Probable (Finger), 
                           Kevin Garnett, Out (Ankle), Jared Sullinger, Out (Back), Rajon Rondo, Out (Knee).

Cleveland Cavaliers - Dion Waiters, Questionable (Knee), Anderson Verajoa, Out (Knee).
 


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