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


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.

Prediction

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Stadium

TD Garden
Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Capacity: 18,624

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Last Injuries

Boston Celtics

  • Jayson Tatum

    Groin
    Doub Tues | doubtful

    Tatum has missed the previous two games with a right groin strain, and his status is in doubt for Tuesday's tilt against the Heat.

  • Enes Kanter

    Hip
    Out Tues | out

    Kanter has missed the last two games with a right hip contusion, and he will not draw back into the lineup Tuesday versus the Heat.

  • Javonte Green

    Knee
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Green is dealing with left knee soreness, and it is unclear if he will be available to face the Heat on Tuesday.

  • Jaylen Brown

    Ankle
    Prob Sun | probable

    Brown has been held out of the previous two games with a right ankle sprain but is expected to face the Pelicans on Sunday.

  • Marcus Smart

    Hand
    Prob Sun | probable

    Smart is expected to play in Sunday's contest against the Pelicans despite a sprained right hand.

  • Kemba Walker

    Knee
    Prob Wed | probable

    Walker is suffering from left knee soreness but is expected to suit up for Wednesday's battle versus the Grizzlies.

  • Jaylen Brown

    Thumb
    Prob Mon | probable

    Brown has been held out of the previous two games due to a right thumb sprain, but he is expected to suit up for Monday's tilt versus the Lakers.

  • Kemba Walker

    Knee
    Prob Mon | probable

    Walker missed the previous contest due to left knee soreness, but it is likely he will be available for Monday's clash with the Lakers.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Brandon Knight

    Knee
    Mid Feb | out

    Knight is sidelined with a sore left knee, and is not expected to play until the middle of February.

  • Kevin Porter Jr.

    Knee
    Prob Mon | probable

    Porter Jr. has been recovering from a sprained left knee, and he is expected to suit up Monday versus the Pistons.

  • Ante Zizic

    Illness
    Out indefinitely | out

    Zizic is suffering from a vestibular condition. A timetable for return has yet to be established.

  • John Henson

    Back
    Prob Thurs | probable

    Henson has been absent from the lineup during the last two games with lower-back soreness, but he is likely to be available versus the Wizards on Thursday.

  • Dante Exum

    Ankle
    Ques Sat | questionable

    Exum has a sprained right ankle, and it is unclear if he will be in the lineup against the Bulls on Saturday.

  • Dylan Windler

    Shin
    out for season | out

    Windler is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after surgery to repair a left tibial stress reaction.

  • Kevin Love

    Rest
    Out Tues | out

    Love is not expected to play against the Clippers on Tuesday as he will be given the night to rest.

  • Larry Nance Jr.

    Knee
    Prob Tues | probable

    Nance Jr. has been sidelined due to left knee soreness, but is expected to make his return against the Clippers on Tuesday.