Celtics to get first glimpse at retooled Cavs
(Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will retire Paul Pierce's No. 34 in postgame ceremonies Sunday night at TD Garden.
But hours before that, there is other business to take care of as the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers visit for another chapter in the growing rivalry between the Cavs and Celtics.
If you missed it, while the Celtics remained quiet at the trade deadline -- adding free agent Greg Monroe -- the Cavs did an on-the-fly overhaul. They sent six players, including Isaiah Thomas and Dwyane Wade, and a No. 1 draft pick out and brought in four players and a protected No. 2 draft pick.
They got younger. They got quicker. Now we'll see if they will be potent enough to survive the likes of the Celtics and Toronto Raptors and get another shot at a title.
On Friday night, with Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. having arrived but staying in the locker room, LeBron James had 22 points, 19 assists and 12 rebounds, and Kyle Korver and Jeff Green combined for 54 points off the bench in a short-handed win at Atlanta.
The four new players are expected to make their Cleveland debuts in what is likely to be an emotionally charged game on the parquet.
Hill is the only one of the newcomers announced in Sunday's starting lineup by coach Tyronn Lue. That leaves rookie Cedi Osman, who scored 16 points Friday night in his first NBA start, in the starting five for at least one more game.
"I mean, they don't know the plays yet," Lue, talking after Saturday's practice in Atlanta, said of the new players. "So it's going to be tough tomorrow with George starting because you can't really run a lot of stuff. Just run some pick-and-rolls.
"But just having him on the floor will be good. He's a veteran so he can understand the flow of the game and then once we get our plays down and defensively what we want to do, then you could see a lineup change."
Lue said Saturday's first practice since the trade was "going to be a walk-through, just trying to teach the new guys the plays and what we're trying to do defensively. Then just kind of go from there."
The Celtics dug themselves out of a 26-point first-half hole and came all the way back, only to fall to Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Boston was on the back end of a back-to-back that started with an 8 p.m. game that went into overtime in Washington on Wednesday night.
"I thought we started the game really going through the motions, and I thought they started the game really playing with great force and purpose," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Friday night's loss. "And I just thought we -- we did a better job of that in the third quarter. There wasn't anything tactically to change, because there was nothing tactically to talk about at halftime. I thought that their force, their purpose, their aggressiveness, their speed was an issue."
The teams have split a pair of games this season, each winning on its home floor, but the Cavs have won eight of their last 10 at TD Garden, counting playoffs.
When the game ends, the court will be cleared and Pierce will get his number lifted up to join the other Celtics greats.
Boston guard Kyrie Irving, who grew up a Kobe Bryant fan, learned to appreciate Pierce through their playoff battles.
"I'd go home and I'd re-watch the highlights of Games 1 through 6 (of the NBA Finals)," Irving said Friday. "Whatever game it was in LA, Pierce had that black leather knee brace on and he just put on an unbelievable show in front of his hometown crowd. And he just always rose to those occasions, just consistently wanting that shot, wanting that possession.
"I've been a fan for a long time. I'm a fan of a lot of greats, but his legacy will live on forever on Sunday, with his jersey retired with a lot of other great players that have played within the organization around the league."
The Celtics were believed to be in the running to bring one-time draft pick Joe Johnson back to Boston via his buyout with the Sacramento Kings, but Johnson is headed for Houston.
Updated February 11, 2018