Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Predictions 12-27-2019

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The Boston Celtics have barely been challenged during a four-game winning streak, including a 16-point win at the defending champs on Christmas. They'll try to extend their run to five games in a row when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

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After a six-point win at Dallas to begin the streak, Boston has three more victories by an average of 21 points as it tries to keep pace with the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. "I've said it, but we have good players from top to bottom," forward Gordon Hayward told reporters after the 118-102 win at Toronto on Christmas. "And when we space correctly, and we play within ourselves and within the system of how we want to play, we're pretty tough." The Cavaliers have followed up a 2-16 stretch with three consecutive victories, their longest winning streak in two seasons. Collin Sexton stayed hot with 25 points in Monday's 121-118 win over Atlanta at home.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Cleveland), NBCS Boston

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (9-21): Sexton was 12-of-20 from the floor in the win over the Hawks while 19-year-olds Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. combined for 36 points. Cleveland survived 23 turnovers by tightening up on defense and riding the trio of young guards down the stretch. "It shows that we are improving," coach John Beilein told reporters. "I don't know if we win this game a month ago."

ABOUT THE CELTICS (21-7): Hayward produced 14 points, six assists and five rebounds on Christmas after missing the previous three games with a foot issue. Jaylen Brown carried the bulk of the load with 30 points on 10-of-13 shooting - including 5-of-7 from 3-point range - and he is averaging 24.5 points during the winning streak. "I was feeling good," Brown told reporters Wednesday. "I was just trying to play within the game. Not a lot of playcalls. [I was] just scoring within the game, and that kind of just led to making baskets, and continuing to be efficient regardless of whatever how it goes out there, just take advantage of whatever opportunities you can get."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Hayward scored 39 points in the first meeting Nov. 5 and G Kemba Walker scored 22 in the next encounter Dec. 9 as the Celtics extended their winning streak in the series to six in a row.

2. Sexton has at least 23 points in three of his last four games, shooting a combined 32-for-50 in those three contests.

3. Celtics C Enes Kanter is averaging 13.8 rebounds in 21.3 minutes over his last four games.

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