Stars, studs and duds: Celtics beat Cavs in 'playoff atmosphere'

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics beat Cavs in 'playoff atmosphere'

BOSTON – When it comes to winning in the playoffs, late-game execution is an essential component to success.

We’ve seen the Celtics win in that fashion often this season, but rarely against a team as good as the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But there were the Celtics, feisty as ever when the game mattered most, doing all the little things at both ends of the floor to escape with a 103-99 victory Wednesday over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.


It was Boston’s first win of the season over the Cavs, who now lead the head-to-head season series two games to one with their final matchup being April 5 at the TD Garden.

The victory also brings the Celtics (39-22) within three games of the East-leading Cavs.

Following the game, there was no question about the game having a postseason-like feel about it.

“It definitely felt like a playoff game,” said Cavs coach Tyronn Lue. “The atmosphere is great. Whenever you play in Boston the atmosphere is good. Both sides competed and it was a really good game.”

Boston’s Amir Johnson echoed similar sentiments.

“The crowd was really into this one, just like it was a playoff game,” he told CSNNE.com. “We needed them tonight because the Cavs, they’re a really good team.”

And while the Cavs (41-18) would have loved to have come away with the victory, they seemed to appreciate the quality of play by both teams.

“It was fun,” said Kyrie Irving. “Obviously, you want to come and win. It feels like a playoff atmosphere. Two great teams going at it; it’s what you want to be a part of.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game.


Isaiah Thomas: The confidence that Thomas plays with is undeniable, and is only growing with each passing victory. He led all scorers with 31 points on 10-for-20 shooting to go with five assists.

LeBron James: He was filling the stat sheet in all categories for the Cavs, tallying a triple-double of 28 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Kyrie Irving: Plagued by early foul trouble, Irving still put together a strong game for Cleveland. He finished with 21 points on 10-for-19 shooting.


Avery Bradley: Nobody in this game got more out of their minutes played than Bradley. He had 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting, but even more important was his defense down the stretch against Irving.

Jae Crowder: He finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds for Boston. Within that impressive stat line was a go-ahead 3-pointer with about two minutes to play which was one of the many big shots made by the Celtics down the stretch.

Al Horford: He missed some shots that he should have made, but give Horford credit. He has consistently found ways to make winning plays when it matters most. He finished just short of a triple-double, scoring nine points to go along with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.


Kyle Korver: He hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter; I’ll give him that. But besides that shot, Korver brought little to the game tonight for the Cavs. He finished with four points, missing six of his seven shot attempts.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from Celtics-Trail Blazers

“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”