Celtics must smarten up to get revenge on the Cavaliers

By Sports Desk November 01, 2022

The Boston Celtics will have their eye on revenge when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

It will be the second meeting between the two sides this season, with both having made impressive starts.

The Celtics, last season's Eastern Conference champions, are 4-2 staring up at only the unbeaten Milwaukee Bucks and the 5-1 Cavs.

One of their two defeats came last week at TD Garden, as they suffered a 132-123 home loss to the Cavs in overtime.

Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert combined for 82 points in that victory for the Cavs, who will look to reaffirm their credentials as contenders in the East by backing up that win with another as they play hosts this time to the visiting Celtics.

After All-Star point guard Darius Garland left the first game of the season with an eye injury that is still keeping him out of action, Mitchell has been the catalyst for the Cavs' strong form, having been acquired in a trade with the Utah Jazz in the offseason.

Cleveland sent Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji and three first-round picks to the Jazz for the star shooting guard in a deal that also included two pick swaps.

Stopping Mitchell will be the priority for a Celtics team whose play on defense has slipped from the standards they set in their run to the Finals.


Cleveland Cavaliers - Donovan Mitchell

Mitchell has proven worth the high price the Cavs paid for him to this point.

Only four players are averaging more than his 32.2 points per game, while Mitchell is shooting a red-hot, and possibly unsustainable 45.5 per cent from three-point range.

Bojan Bogdanovic (50.8 per cent) is the sole player who has attempted at least 50 threes to perform better from beyond the arc than Mitchell this season.

If he can get hot from deep in this one, it could spell trouble for a Boston team that saw him go for 41 on their home court last Friday.

Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart

Smart has long been the defensive heartbeat for the Celtics, but he could not help them contain Mitchell and LeVert in the previous meeting.

Indeed, he had a plus/minus of minus 26 against the Cavs, and his defensive rating – albeit a team stat – of 116.4 this season is the worst of his career.

Simply put, the Celtics need Smart to return to the form that saw him win Defensive Player of the Year last season.

KEY BATTLE - Preventing turnovers key for Celtics

The Cavs are averaging 20.5 points off turnovers per game, the fifth-most in the NBA.

Though Boston's 13.8 turnovers per game are the 10th-fewest in the league, the Celtics committed 19 in their home loss to Cleveland.

Given how effective the Cavs are at turning those opportunities into points, Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla should be preaching the importance of taking care of the ball especially hard this time around.


The Cavs' victory last week continued a theme of recent success against Boston, with Cleveland having won four of their past six regular-season matchups with the Celtics.

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