NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
Cleveland Cavaliers (5-21) at Boston Celtics (12-12), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A winless road trip has left the Boston Celtics with their longest losing streak of the season.
The Celtics hope a return to Boston can get them on track as they aim to snap a three-game slide on Wednesday night in a meeting with the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston lost games in Houston, San Antonio and Chicago to drop three in a row for the first time this season, ending the swing on Tuesday night with a 100-89 setback to the Bulls.
Perhaps the swing had taken its toll on Boston as Chicago used a 14-1 surge in the fourth quarter to pull away for good.
"They took us out of everything with their effort," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said about Chicago. "I thought they were the tougher team tonight, the more physical team and it was not even close."
Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 26 points and eight assists, while Paul Pierce had 16 points and Courtney Lee added 14.
Boston will play two straight at home and have won four straight as the host, where the club is 8-4 on the campaign compared to 4-8 on the road.
The Cavaliers began a stretch of four games in five nights on Tuesday with a 113-99 home loss to the Toronto Raptors. Kyrie Irving, playing with a mask on his face after breaking a bone in last Friday's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, paced Cleveland with 23 points and seven assists.
The Cavs were outscored by 18 points in the second half by a Raptors club that had lost 11 in a row on the road.
"When you give up 64 points in the second half and 35 in the fourth quarter, you're not going to win a lot of games," Cavs head coach Byron Scott said.
The disappointing setback also came three days after the Cavaliers dropped a close one-point decision to the Atlantic Division-leading New York Knicks.
"We're not trying to make any excuses here, but when we play the lower echelon teams, we don't come out like we want to," said Irving. "We've got to come out with a more focused attitude and a killer mentality. We've just got to find out what's missing in those quarters that we're having letdowns in."
Though guard Dion Waiters returned from an eight-game absence on Tuesday night caused by a sprained left ankle, Anderson Varejao may be unavailable for this game after leaving Tuesday night's contest briefly in the first period due to a knee injury. He did return and logged 22 points with 10 rebounds, but the travel and playing for a second night in a row could be too much.
Cleveland has lost four straight on the road and is just 2-13 as the guest this season.
The Cavs have also dropped seven of their last nine in Boston, though they did come away with an 88-87 victory in their lone trip there last season. Irving's layup with 2.6 seconds left was the winner and capped a 23-point performance.
The Celtics have won five of the last seven encounters overall.
12/19 10:29:12 ET