Resting starters is more important than fair play, which helped the Boston Celtics crush the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-78 as they rested LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and Kevin Love while also affecting the playoff race which doesn’t really concern them at this point.
The Celtics beat the Cavaliers for the second time in a week. Some say the Cavaliers are all about resting their starters, something David Blatt mentioned after the game, and considering that their second place in the East has been set in stone for a few days, there’s no reason to overwork his key players, although the plan is to give them minutes on one of the remaining two games against the Pistons, another team with nothing to play for.
The Celtics embraced this approach with both hands. It helps them win a fourth game in a row, something of a rarity for them this season, moving up to seventh in the East. It puts them one game above the Brooklyn Nets (who are in) and above the Indiana Pacers (who are out) while not having to worry about the Miami Heat, who can only advance past the other two teams.
There’s also the theory that the Cavaliers are playing their part in order to keep the one team they’re worried about from the lower seeds, the Indiana Pacers. We haven’t really heard Pacers players or staff talking about it, but reporters and fans have been theorizing about something that might be true. The subject has been up in the air since the first loss to the Celtics.
As for the game, it really meant a lot less compared to the big picture. The Cavaliers played with Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov in the lineup, backed up by Shawn Marion, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova in the backcourt. It was an opportunity to give some players a bit more time on the floor than usual, and even they didn’t try their hardest to make a game of it.
The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas with 17 points off the bench, maybe the main reason they’ve been able to make this late push into the postseason, providing a certain spark of quality, talent and creativity they’ve been lacking for almost two seasons. Evan Turner scored 15 points and five more players scored in double figures, with the Celtics scoring 36 points off of 25 turnovers and hitting 54.8% of their shots, in probably their easiest win of the whole season.
If the season ended today, the Cavaliers and Celtics would be playing in the first round of the playoffs. The season series has been split 2-2, but it’s quite clear the Cavaliers aren’t exactly worried about facing Boston in the postseason.