Tale of the tape: Celtics ready to roll with Cavs


WALTHAM, Mass. – Cleveland has once again been the team everyone in the Eastern Conference measures themselves against.

They are the defending Eastern Conference champion, and are expected to be the final team standing in the Eastern Conference again this season.

So here are the Celtics once again facing one of the league’s power players with the goal being to pull of another major upset.

They did it in Oklahoma City, Atlanta and most recently Charlotte.

Why not add Cleveland to their growing list of elite victims this season?

“We compete,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “We give ourselves a chance each and every game. That’s how we look at it.”

For Boston (14-10) to emerge victorious Tuesday night, it will take a strong effort in a number of areas.

Here’s a look at three key phases of the game that if Boston were to fare better than Cleveland, they would go a long way towards the Celtics coming away with a victory.


Cleveland does a good job on the defensive boards which in turn limits the effectiveness of opponents to pile on second chance points. Not including games played on Monday, the Cavs rank eighth in the league in defensive rebounds (34.7) per game. And that has allowed them to limit opponents to just 10.3 second-chance points per game which is the third-best mark in the NBA. Having success on the offensive glass has been a sizeable part of Boston’s success this season. They rank fifth in offensive rebounds (11.5) per game, and are sixth in second-chance points (14.3) per game.


Tuesday night’s game isn’t exactly the basketball equivalent of the tortoise and the hare, but there’s no question Cleveland prefers a slower-paced game compared to the Celtics who have the fourth-best PACE (possessions per 48 minutes) in the NBA of 101.25. Meanwhile, the Cavs are at nearly opposite end of the spectrum with a PACE of 95.63 that ranks 29th in the league. The faster pace has allowed Boston to get more shots up which has led to them ranking among the league’s top scoring teams (103.7 points per game, sixth in the NBA). And the Cavs’ slow ball game has made it tough for teams to get out and score easy baskets against them, evident by them allowing just 9.9 fast break points per game which ranks third in the NBA in fewest allowed.


Cleveland is shooting 45.6 percent from the field this season, the fifth-best mark in the league. When you look at their Effective Field Goal percentage (eFG%) which takes into account 3-point shooting, the Cavs have the third-best mark (.517) in that category. This will be a huge challenge for the Celtics whose defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 97.0 ranks fourth in the league this season. Part of that defensive success has been not allowing teams to be very efficient when it comes to eFG%. In fact, Celtics opponents this season have an eFG% of .476 which is the sixth-best mark in the league.

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