Wrap-Up – Yes, the Celtics were playing without their All-Stars – Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – but as they did on Tuesday night in Boston, still went with their regulars into the third quarter. The results were almost identical, with the Wine & Gold manhandling Boston for the second straight outing – a, 113-102, drubbing on Saturday night at The Q.
After locking horns for seven games in last year’s Conference Finals, the new-look Cavaliers and the highly-touted Celtics have played twice this Preseason with Boston failing to compete in either contest.
Cleveland jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
With still some bad blood lingering from last season’s Playoffs – and possibly the beating Cleveland gave Boston five days ago – tempers flared in the opening period – with JR Smith and Aron Baynes tangling under the basket, Smith shoving Baynes with two hands and Marcus Smart trying to jump into the fray before being restrained by his teammates.
When the smoke cleared, Smith and Baynes were each given personal fouls, Smart and Smith each received technical fouls and Smart was shown the door.
If the rhubarb fired up Brad Stevens’ squad, it didn’t show. The Cavaliers proceeded to up their advantage to three touchdowns late in the first half.
Cleveland – playing without Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Kyle Korver and George Hill – started an entirely different five to start the second stanza, with Boston returning its regulars. But the results were no different. The Cavs went into the third period up by 15 and came out of it up 20.
Sophomore big man Ante Zizic – picked by Boston with the 23rd overall pick of the 2016 Draft before being dealt to Cleveland last summer – was one of those Cavaliers to start the second half, and he proceeded to score 18 of his game-high 20 points after intermission.
On the night, Zizic went 7-of-8 from the floor and 6-of-6 from the stripe – adding five boards in the win.
Jordan Clarkson also got the second half start for Cleveland – pitching in with 12 points and six boards, going 4-of-8 from the floor to go with three assists.
Rookie Collin Sexton turned in his second straight solid performance – getting his first start as a pro and following up with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including both three-pointers and all three free throws he attempted.
Larry Nance Jr. was the only other Cavalier in double-figures, going 4-of-5 from the floor to finish with 10 points to go with five boards, a pair of assists and a steal.
Boston was paced by Marcus Morris and Cleveland native, Terry Rozier, each of who tallied 17 points in the loss.
Turning Point – Cleveland would probably rather find another way to get the team fired up, but JR Smith’s shove might’ve been Saturday night’s turning point. And maybe it showed his young teammates that the Cavaliers are still the Conference champs and the Celtics have to do more than talk to get past them.
The Wine & Gold were up six when Swish tangled with Baynes (and then Smart) and didn’t lose an inch of ground afterward – going on a 40-25 run to take a 21-point edge just before halftime.
The beat went on after intermission. Boston never got to within single-digits the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 20 … three-point percentage (12-of-60) for the Celtics in two preseason contests against the Cavaliers.
Quotable – Coach Tyronn Lue on Collin Sexton and Ante Zizic against Boston … ”Collin did a great job, he’s a gamer. When the lights come on he’s ready to play. He made some big shots, ran the team and ran the show. I thought he did a really good job with that. Big Z has a good post presence, great hands, really good around the basket and he gave us an offensive spark in the second half.”
Up Next – After improving to 2-0 with their second straight win over Boston, the Cavaliers welcome the Pacers to The Q on Monday night. Cleveland wraps up the preseason next Friday night when they travel to face the Pistons at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on the campus of Michigan State University. The Wine & Gold open the 2018-19 regular season north of the border – facing off against the Raptors on October 17.