Celtics

Celtics-Cavs takeaways: Horford makes the difference in C's win

Celtics

The Boston Celtics got their revenge on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night following Saturday's disappointing loss.

Despite Ricky Rubio's 28 points for the Cavs and Cedi Osman dropping 26 off the bench, Boston was able to escape with a 98-92 victory. While it got a bit dicey in the final minutes, the C's defense was mostly exceptional in the second game of the miniseries. The effort on that side of the ball made up for a mediocre offensive performance.

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Here are a few instant takeaways from the Celtics' win as they get back to .500 (7-7) on the season.

Al Horford's presence is a difference-maker

The Celtics missed Horford in Saturday's defeat as the veteran big man was sidelined with lower back pain. He returned to the lineup Monday night and didn't miss a beat.

Horford looked spry right out of the gate and was a difference-maker on both ends of the floor, just as he's been all season to this point. The 35-year-old finished with 17 points to go with nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks.

You wouldn't know Horford is 35 the way he's performed through the first month of the campaign. In 11 games played, he's averaging 13.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks while shooting 45 percent from the floor.

Grant Williams provides a boost off the bench

It appears Grant Williams is back to being unconscious from 3-point range.

Williams gave the C's a spark by hitting three of his six shots from beyond the arc in the early going. As a team, Boston was 4-for-17 from 3 in the first half. Three of those makes were Williams'.

 

After starting the season hot from 3, Williams went cold once the calendar turned to November. But over his last three games, the 22-year-old is 10-for-16 from long distance.

Williams finished with 11 points for the second straight game, plus four rebounds and a steal in 24 minutes off the bench.

Dennis Schroder comes up clutch

Schroder was an afterthought for most of the night after being red-hot in his last four games (26.5 ppg). But in the fourth quarter, he stepped up when the Celtics needed him most.

The Cavs were on the verge of spoiling Boston's night when the German point guard came through with a pair of huge shots. The first was a drive to the basket with 1:16 left in the game to extend the lead to three.

Schroder's turnaround jumper with 43.1 left was the dagger. 

Without Schroder's late heroics, we could be talking about a much different result to this game.

Schroder finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

Enes Kanter gets some run

Robert Williams exiting the game with left knee soreness gave Enes Kanter a chance to step in and contribute. The C's big man had logged only 10 minutes on the season entering Monday night.

He played eight meaningful minutes in the victory. In the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Kanter sparked a 10-2 Celtics run with five points and a rebound.

We may see more of Kanter as Boston will need his size if Time Lord misses time. Coincidentally, this comes immediately after Celtics head coach Ime Udoka explained why Kanter hadn't seen the court much this season.

Next up for the Celtics is a trip to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.