Event: Cleveland Cavaliers (7-11) vs. Boston Celtics (9-9) - NBA Regular Season, Game 19.
Date/Time: Sunday, January 29, 2012 - 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's game between the Celtics and Cavaliers will be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson/Kyle Draper calling the action. In addition, the game can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on the call.
Odds: Boston is a 6 1/2-point favorite over Cleveland, with the over-under set at 110 points.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Cavaliers 2011-12 Roster: Omri Casspi, Semih Erden, Christian Eyenga, Alonzo Gee, Daniel Gibson, Luke Harangody, Ryan Hollins, Kyrie Irving, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Samardo Samuels, Ramon Sessions, Mychel Thompson, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao. Head Coach: Byron Scott.
Celtics And Cavaliers In 2011: Boston and Cleveland met three times one season ago, with the Celtics taking two of the three match-ups. The Cavs dealt Boston a 95-87 defeat in their first game in the post-LeBron James era in their season opener, but Boston responded to win 106-87 on Nov. 30 and 112-95 on Jan. 25 in the season series finale.
Last Time Out: Boston has been on a roll as of late and is coming off of a 94-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Paul Pierce had 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to pace Boston, which shot 45.8 percent from the floor. The Celtics had five players score in the double digits, including Chris Wilcox (14 points) and Kevin Garnett (13 points) in defeat.
Cleveland was topped by the New Jersey Nets, 99-96, in its last game. Kyrie Irving had a game-high 32 points and added six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who shot 46.9 percent from the field. Antawn Jamison finished with 20 points and Ramon Sessions added 11 points off the bench.
Stats Central: Paul Pierce is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 17.7 points. Rajon Rondo is averaging team highs in both assists (9.4) and steals (1.7). Kevin Garnett is the team's leading rebounder (7.5 RPG) and Jermaine O'Neal is averaging a team high 1.4 swats. Boston ranks 25th in the NBA in scoring (89.8 PPG), 29th in rebounding (39.1 RPG), ninth in assists (21.6 APG) and third in points allowed (87.9 PPG).
Storyline: It's not as easy as it seems. But make no mistake, it shouldn't be all too hard. The Boston Celtics, rolling in the last week despite what has appeared to be the final decline of the Big Three, are still looking to turn heads and prove they matter in the Eastern Conference. To do so, they will need to beat the bad teams, like Cleveland. The Cavaliers are much improved (OK, maybe a little improved) from their horrible post-LeBron season one year ago. However, with Kyrie Irving and a smattering of other capable players, they can pose the aging Celtics a problem. It's not clear whether or not the C's will get Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen or Jermaine O'Neal back Sunday, either. Still, beating the hapless Cavs without that trio of veterans shouldn't be an issue. Shouldn't is the key word. Who knows, right?
Players To Watch: Paul Pierce has looked like his old self this last week (not his old self age wise, but his old All-Star self ... you know what I mean). Pierce along with Kevin Garnett have carried the Celtics on their backs this week without a plethora of starters and role players. If they can get rolling early, it may be enough to boost Boston to another win.
Kyrie Irving is the man to watch for Cleveland, as perhaps the only bright spot on an otherwise bleak season, Irving has already proven he can play early in his rookie season, and guards have seemed to have better luck against the Celtics defense than most others through most of this season. Antawn Jamison is also another solid option for Cleveland.
Prediction: This is one of those "there's no excuse for losing" games. Boston, old and all, is still a much better team than Cleveland. In turn, that should and probably will be reflected on the scoreboard. Final Score: Celtics 98, Cavaliers 82.