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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celtics Push Closer to a Playoff Spot With 99-90 Road Win at Cavaliers

The Cavaliers truly had absolutely nothing to play for tonight at Quicken Loans Arena against the Celtics so it was surprising that they even gave it much effort for a while. Cleveland (51-28 overall, 29-10 home) is locked into the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and they can't move up or down so they eventually conceded a 99-90 road win to Boston (37-42 overall, 18-22 away). The Cavs sat Kyrie Irving (hip) for the entire game while LeBron James (14 points, 7 assists), Kevin Love (19 points, 6 rebounds), Timofey Mozgov (13 points) and J.R. Smith did not get off the bench in the fourth quarter.

Every win matters to the Celts so they obviously were happy to snap Cleveland's 18-game home winning streak, even if it was under shady circumstances. With the victory, Boston held onto the seventh spot in the East. Hopefully they can get out of that position and let Brooklyn (who has the same record) slide in while Boston drops to No. 8 to face Atlanta.

Five Celtics scored at least 12 points and Evan Turner dished out 13 assists. Rookie Marcus Smart led Boston with 19 points, Isaiah Thomas put up 17 points and five assists off the bench, Avery Bradley had 15 points, former Cav Tyler Zeller notched 13 points and five rebounds while Brandon Bass scored 12 points with five rebounds and three assists.

The only other Cavalier to score in double-figures was the ghost of Mike Miller (11 points). Tristan Thompson grabbed an impressive 12 rebounds in only 16 minutes off the bench for Cleveland. The Cavs had won the first two meetings of the season including a 110-79 beating in their most recent matchup on March 3 so I really wouldn't read much into this outcome. Plus, these same teams face each other again on Sunday (3, CSN) at TD Garden in another game that means everything to the Celts.

Boston cruised in the first half: up 28-17 after the first quarter and 54-40 at halftime. Cleveland made it interesting with a strong third quarter (37-25) before they packed it in during the fourth (outscored 20-13). As a team, the C's had five more assists (30-25), seven more steals (11-4) and eight more fast break points (9-1).

With the Celtics' triumph, Charlotte was eliminated from playoff contention (sorry MJ). That leaves only Indiana (36-43) and Miami (35-44) with a chance to make it but right now, Boston and Brooklyn are in the driver's seat for those last two berths with three games left to play for all those clubs.

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