NBA on Sling: Cavs Pose Big Test for Celtics; Mavs & Lakers Look to Each Other for Rare W

Dec 28, 2016 by Sling Staff

Boston Celtics (19-13) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (23-7)
8pm ET Thursday on TNT

Gerald Green knocked off the rust Tuesday, coming off the bench Tuesday to score 19 points in as many minutes and help propel the Celtics to a 113-103 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. It was the C’s sixth win in their last seven games, and the second over Memphis in that span. Boston also got big contributions from Avery Bradley, who filled his stat line with a team-high 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block, and reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Isaiah Thomas, who kicked in with 21 points and 7 assists.

Going back to last year’s playoffs, the Golden State Warriors have won 28 of their last 37 games, with 5 of those losses coming at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the most recent a Christmas Day instant classic showdown won by the Cavs 109-108. The following day, however, the Cavs suffered a huge letdown, falling 106-90 to the Pistons, as LeBron James took the day off, further depleting a starting 5 already without JR Smith for a few months. Irving-Thompson-Love-Jefferson-Liggins managed just 44 points on 17-of-45 shooting. One shouldn’t read too much into the loss to Detroit.

Dallas Mavericks (9-23) vs Los Angeles Lakers (12-23)
10:30pm ET Thursday on TNT

The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Houston Rockets 123-107, as Houston secured a 4-game sweep of the season series with their in-state rivals. It was an ugly loss, as the newly reunited Andrew Bogut and Dirk Nowitzki, who’ve both missed big chunks of the season to injury, combined to score 7 points in 25 total minutes. Bogut got called for a flagrant foul after dropping a hard screen on a charging James Harden, setting the tone for a night on which 8 technicals were called, and the two teams combined to shoot 53 free throws. “That other team was trippin' tonight, just disrespectful, unprofessional, players and coaches,” Harden said afterward. “I don’t know what was their problem.”

To give you an idea of how things are going for the Lakers this season, the top three stories out of the Staples Center are the breakup of owner Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson; Larry Nance Jr is off crutches and could be back in a couple of weeks; and they lost Tuesday to the Utah Jazz 102-100. Julius Randle scored a team-high 25 points, and grabbed a dozen boards, and Lou Williams came off the bench to score 22 points, but it wasn’t quite enough to outgun Gordon Hayward’s 31-point, 9-rebound effort. The Lakers have now lost 18 of their last 23 games, and they rank in the bottom three defensively in shooting percentage, rebounds, assists, blocks and points – oh, and they’ve made the most turnovers in the league.

Watch the Celtics vs Cavs at 8pm ET, followed by the Mavs vs Lakers at 10:30pm ET on TNT by subscribing to Sling

All stats courtesy ESPN and Basketball Reference.

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