With both teams on the second half of a back-to-back and both rosters missing key players, you wouldn’t have expected a clean game from the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
Yet fans at Rocket Mortgage Field House likely got even more ineptitude than they bargained for, as the hometown Cavs scored just nine points in the first quarter and still rallied back from an 18-point third quarter deficit to clip the Celtics, 91-89.
Darius Garland tallied a team-high 22 points for Cleveland, but it was veteran floor general Ricky Rubio and rookie big man Evan Mobley who keyed the second half run. Mobley finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Rubio had 16 points with seven assists.
Friday night’s hero Dennis Schröder led the way for Boston with 28 points, but his attempt to tie it clanked at the final horn. Jayson Tatum scored 22 points but was a mess, shooting 8-for-22 (1-of-8 from downtown) with six turnovers. Robert Williams had 12 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
The C’s held Cleveland to just nine points in the opening period, as the two teams combined for 29 points – the lowest scoring first quarter in the NBA this season. Cleveland closed the gap to four in the second, but Schröder got going and Smart hit Williams on a lob at the halftime horn for a 52-38 advantage.
Boston led 74-62 after three, but Cleveland pushed a 17-0 run deep into the fourth and pulled ahead with 6:43 left. While the teams exchanged punches in the closing minutes, the Celtics blew multiple possessions on bad passes and even a 24-second violation.
The loss drops Boston to 6-7 on the season. Cleveland improves to 9-5.
The Celtics run it back with the Cavs on Monday night. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. and you can hear the call from Cleveland on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.