Celtics

Celtics-Cavaliers review: C's go cold in second half

987627.jpg

Celtics-Cavaliers review: C's go cold in second half

CLEVELAND Scoring droughts are nothing new for the Boston Celtics.

Even in their run towards Banner 18 in 2008, the C's had their share of offensive lulls.

But things are different now, and definitely not for the better.

"Offensively we have those flat periods," Rivers said. "And when we are good when we have those flat periods, we get stops. And right now, we're not when we have droughts."

That was one of the contributing factors to Boston's 95-90 loss to Cleveland, the C's fourth in a row.

Boston was especially atrocious in the third quarter, shooting just 33.3 percent from the field.

Fortunately for them, the Cavs were even worse in converting just 27.3 percent of their shots which allowed the Celtics to take a 73-70 lead into the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer by Courtney Lee with less than a second to play.

As bad as Boston was in the third quarter shooting the ball, they were even worse in the fourth as they connected on just 21.7 percent of their shots.

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving had almost as many points in the fourth quarter (15) as the entire C's squad (17).

"It's definitely frustrating when you get back in the game, and you defend the way you defend, you got one guy who really got it going ... it's right there in our hands," said Paul Pierce. "We had some good looks, missed a few lay-ups."

And with that, another missed opportunity for a win. Despite hitting the official halfway point with a below-.500 record (20-21), the Celtics still hold out hope that there's enough time to turn around the fortunes of their quickly-fading season.

They will get another shot at starting a new winning streak when they host the New York Knicks on Thursday night at the TD Garden.

Here are some of the factors outlined prior to Tuesday's game, and how those factors played out as the C's suffer a fourth straight loss for the second time this season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Celtics have not been attacking the lane as much as they should, but that should change tonight. The Cavaliers' interior defense is indeed one of their weaknesses. In fact, Cleveland ranks dead-last in blocked shots (3.5) per game.

WHAT WE SAW: That electric fence that the C's seem to feel surrounds the paint, was apparently up and active again. Boston had just 28 points in the paint compared to Cleveland which had 46.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo vs. Kyrie Irving: Rondo may be an all-star starter, but Irving is progressing towards being one of the NBA's better playmakers. And like most young guards in the league, facing Rondo tends to bring out the best in him.

WHAT WE SAW: Irving came out as the aggressor and completely overwhelmed Rondo in the first quarter. Rondo made this matchup closer in the second and third quarters, but Irving's ability to take over in the fourth was the difference in the game - and to a large degree, this head-to-head matchup.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett has been solid of late, but the C's really need him to have one of those dominate performances that he's good for every now and then. Without Anderson Varejao (blood clot, out for the season) in the mix, the chances of Garnett delivering a huge game become much, much greater for the Celtics.

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett continues to have good but not great nights for the Celtics, tallying 16 points along with five rebounds, three assists and a season-high five blocked shots.

STAT TO TRACK: Ball movement has been an issue for the Cavaliers most of this season, a trend the C's would like to see continue tonight. Cleveland averages just 19.4 assists per game which ranks 29th in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Celtics' defense has limited opponents to 21.4 assists per game this season which ranks 12th in the league.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston's porous interior defense made for a passing frenzy for the Cavaliers as they exceeded their season average in assists with 21 after just three quarters of play. For the game, Cleveland had 24 assists.

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

celtics_gordon_hayward_100617.jpg

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
 
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
 
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
 
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
 
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
 
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
 
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
 
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
 
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
 
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
 
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
 
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
 
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
 
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”