Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Pick & Prediction MARCH 5th 2024

The Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to cool off the NBA’s hottest team when they play the visiting Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.

Boston owns an 11-game winning streak, and has won eight in a row away from home. The Celtics turned in their most impressive half of the season Sunday when they built a 44-point halftime lead en route to a 140-88 home victory over Golden State.

Tuesday’s game will be the start of a five-game road trip that also takes Boston to games against Denver, Phoenix, Portland and Utah.

“We’re gonna have to take it to the road now,” the Celtics’ Derrick White said. “This is the NBA. Got a lot of good teams coming up on the schedule and it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

Boston’s lead in the Eastern Conference has grown to 8.5 games over the Milwaukee Bucks and nine games over the Cavaliers entering play Monday.

Golden State played soft defense against Boston’s Jaylen Brown on Sunday and paid the price. Brown scored 19 points in the first quarter and 29 in the game, despite not playing in the second half, and was a bit miffed by the Warriors’ defensive approach.

“For the most part my job is to get to the paint,” Brown said. “We got enough 3-point shooters on our team, so I don’t take a lot of 3s for the most part throughout the season because we have enough of that. I get to the paint to open it up for everybody else, but if you want to dare me to shoot we can do that too.

“I thought it was a little disrespectful, but we took advantage of it and didn’t look back.”

Cleveland is coming off Sunday’s night’s 107-98 loss to the New York Knicks. The Cavaliers were without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, who has missed the past two games with a sore knee. Mitchell is averaging 28.0 points, 6.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.

Sam Merrill came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points against the Knicks. The Cavaliers received 19 points from Darius Garland and 18 from Jarrett Allen. Evan Mobley had 13 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

“I thought we played in spurts,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “I thought we had a good second quarter. I thought we had a good fourth quarter effort-wise. But to come out of halftime and give up 36 points to a team that was down as many guys as they were down, that’s disappointing. Defensively, we’ve got to be better than that.

“(Merrill has) proven that when his minutes come he helps us win basketball games. So we know we can count on him. We just have to keep trying to work him in. Get him minutes.”

Merrill was 7 of 13 from 3-point range against the Knicks in 29 minutes. Garland finished the game with five 3-pointers.

“I try and prepare myself every day and get my work in every day regardless of whether I’m playing or not so that when the opportunities do come I feel confident to go out there and be successful,” Merrill said.

Tuesday’s game will be the third meeting between Boston and Cleveland this season. The Celtics prevailed 120-113 on Dec. 12 and 116-107 on Dec. 14. Both games were in Boston.

“We just have to come out with energy,” Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro said. “That’s it. Lackluster. Some games we have energy, some games we don’t. We have to be consistent with the energy.”

–Field Level Media

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