How the Boston Celtics came back to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Fans Praised The Players’ Bravery

In an intense tilt between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Tuesday night, the Celtics put together a remarkable comeback from down as much as 15 points in the game’s first half, securing a 120-113 victory by the time the final buzzer sounded.

Despite a challenging start where it seemed like Boston could not hit the sea with a pebble in the first quarter, the Celtics showed resilience under pressure to remain undefeated at home this season, turning the tide in their favor by walking down the Cavs’ lead and taking control of the game in the second half. Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday provided the engine of the win, and Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard provided a boost off the bench.

The hosts of the CLNS Media “How Bout Them Celtics!” podcast weighed in on the impressive victory for Boston on their most recent episode.

PBT’s Week 7 NBA Power Rankings: Celtics move back on top, Timberwolves second

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

The Lakers won the In-Season Tournament and while that moved them up one spot in our rankings, the sloppy loss to a shorthanded Mavericks team reminded us the margin for error in Los Angeles is small.

1. Boston Celtics (17-5, Last Week No. 2). In a sign of the depth and maturity of this roster, the Celtics are +4.7 points per 100 possessions when Jayson Tatum is on the bench. That has not been the case in past seasons, they have just tried to hang on for dear life in those minutes. Of course, they are better with a guy who looks like he will be back on the MVP ballot — the Celtics are +10 per 100 in the minutes Tatum is on the court. Boston is 10-0 at home this season, where they will be this week with two games against the Cavaliers and two against the dangerous Magic.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-5, LW 1). Anthony Edwards has missed three of the last five games with a hip injury (he looked limited in the two he did play) and without him the Timberwolves offense becomes stagnant. That didn’t stop Minnesota from winning all but one (New Orleans on Monday) but the victories were thanks to the Timberwolves’ league-best defense, them spreading the offense around (Naz Reid had 18 against San Antonio) and a soft schedule (Jazz, Hornets, Spurs, Grizzlies). Things get tougher this week with the Mavericks, Pacers and Heat on the docket (part of a run through the end of the month against teams over .500).

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-7, LW 3). There’s been a lot of “quarter of the season MVP” talk around the league this week and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been getting shortchanged in those talks. To my eyes, he is a clear third (Jokic and Embiid are 1-2) and it’s not the 30.4 points and 6.2 assists a game, or his improved defense and the 2.8 steals a game, it’s the value to the team — who is more critical to their franchise than SGA? If he’s not in your MVP mix you are doing it wrong. The Thunder have already finished their season series against the Warriors and won it 3-1, a sign of the direction both teams are headed right now.

4. Milwaukee Bucks (16-7, LW 4). For contenders like the Bucks, the NBA regular season should be about building and reinforcing good habits, creating a foundation to lean on during the playoffs. To the eye test, how are the Bucks doing on that front? Milwaukee is unquestionably one of the league’s elite teams, they are racking up wins, but it hasn’t always looked pretty and has felt uneven. It’s fair to wonder if rookie coach Adrian Griffin’s team is properly building toward the postseason. The Bucks are home for their next five games with some tests (Indiana, who bounced them from the IST) but also winnable games against the Pistons and Spurs.

5. Philadelphia 76ers (15-7, LW 7). Joel Embiid’s return from injury to drop 50 on the hapless Wizards was impressive, but Kelly Oubre’s return to action last week after missing 11 games cannot go overlooked. Oubre has averaged 10 points a game since his return and his shot has looked rusty, but the threat of his floor spacing is critical to opening up the paint for Embiid or a Tyrese Maxey drive. Philly has won three in a row and should be able to extend that with a soft spot in the schedule this week: Detroit twice, the Hornets and the Bulls.

6. Orlando Magic (16-7, LW 5). Orlando’s defense deservedly gets most of the credit for the team’s fast start — and why they can sustain it — but they have an offensive identity, too: They want to pound teams in the paint. The Magic are third in the league in points scored in the paint per game at 56.6 (and the two teams ahead of them on that list, Indiana and Washington, get their paint buckets in transition not the halfcourt). Paolo Banchero and his ability to drive or back guys down into the paint deserves credit for a lot of this. Orlando has a lot of work to do to be more efficient in the halfcourt (96.9 points per 100 possessions, 20th in the league via Cleaning the Glass), but there is a plan. Two games in Boston this week will be tough ones.

7. Denver Nuggets (16-9, LW 6). The Nuggets had their first three-game losing streak of the season — with Nikola Jokic looking almost human in a couple of those games — but bounced back with wins over the Hawks and Bulls (both of those games seeing very soft ejections to star players… this is becoming an issue around the league). Denver has banked enough signs of them being a top contender we’re not going to react to this little slide, but Denver will need the the usual, otherworldly Jokic this coming week with the Nets (playing well of late), Thunder and Mavericks on the schedule.

8. Dallas Mavericks (15-8, LW 17). This ranking feels a little high for the Mavericks — especially considering Kyrie Irving is out for a stretch with a bruised heel — but they have won four straight, including beating the Lakers on Monday night. Credit for the hot streak can go to Luka Doncic, who has had to pick up the workload and has thrived averaging 35.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 12.4 assists a night over his last five games. Doncic also gave us an assist of the year candidate with this pass to Donte Exum on Tuesday.

9. Los Angeles Lakers (14-10, LW 10). Winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament showed everyone the potential of this team — when LeBron James plays like he just got out of the Hot Tub Time Machine, Anthony Davis is looking like a DPOY candidate, and Austin Reaves and the role players are clicking this team is a threat to beat anyone. Being able to do that over seven spread-out games in November and December is one thing, can the Lakers do that for two months against the NBA’s best come April and May? The IST showed they have to be in the mix as one of the biggest threats to Denver in the league.

10. Indiana Pacers (13-8, LW 13). The 3-pointers didn’t fall and the Pacers may have lost in the IST finals to the Lakers, but this was still a coming out party for Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers. Beating the Celtics and Bucks to get to the Finals showed Indiana has to be taken seriously as a team capable of a deep playoff run in the East. The Pacers were able to cleanse their palate after the loss by beating the struggling Pistons, now a couple of interesting tests await this week in Milwaukee (a team that might want a little revenge) and then hosting the Clippers.

11. New York Knicks (13-9, LW 8). It’s a real punch to the gut that New York will be without Mitchell Robinson for a couple of months. His energy as a rim protector will be missed, but not as much as what a beast he has been on the offensive glass this season — 5.3 offensive rebounds a game, most in the league. Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein will be pushed into more prominent roles, but the Knicks mostly need to make up for this on the offensive end with more Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and some breakout RJ Barrett. The Knicks head out on the road for five games, including contests against both Los Angeles teams.

12. Miami Heat (13-10, LW 9). Bam Adebayo has been out four games due to a left hip contusion and there is no timeline for his return (but think weeks, not days). Miami has gone 2-2 in those games without its anchor in the paint and their defense has been almost 7 points per 100 possessions worse without Bam over that stretch (for the season, the Heat are 3-4 in games Adebayo has missed). Last June at the NBA Draft there was a lot of “he’s a perfect fit” when the Heat drafted Jaime Jaquez Jr. out of UCLA, but nobody saw this — he has scored in double digits for 10 straight games. The Heat face the Hornets then two against a (playing better of late) Bulls team, all at home in Miami.

13. Los Angeles Clippers (12-10, LW 18). P.J. Tucker may not like it, but the Clippers have found their groove and rotation having won five straight and 10-of-13 (Tucker has been out of the rotation the past seven games). Their starting rotation — James Harden, Terance Mann, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Ivica Zubac — has a +12.8 net rating and has driven this run, while Russell Westbrook comes in off the bench and changes the game’s tempo. One area of concern for the Clippers is 3-point shooting outside their stars — remove Leonard, George and Harden from the equation and the Clippers are shooting 33.2% from beyond the arc. It’s something the Clippers need to look at heading to the trade deadline.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers (13-11, LW 15). They are still the most confusing (and at times disappointing) team in the NBA this season. At one point last week it felt like the Cavaliers were taking a step in the right direction with wins on the road in Florida over the Magic and Heat. They won 5-of-6 and it all starts on the defensive end — they had the best defense in the NBA over that stretch. Add in the games where Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland find their grooves and the Cavs start to look like the threat we expected. Then they lost games to Orlando and Boston (with one more in Boston coming). The stats say the Cavaliers are better with just one of Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen on the court, not both, it opens up the court (especially if George Niang is the four) and J.B. Bickerstaff may need to lean into that lineup.

15. Sacramento Kings (13-9, LW 14). This ranking may feel low for Sacramento, but is this team as good as its record? The Kings have a -0.5 net rating for the season, suggesting a .500 team not one four games above that mark. It would be easy to say they look a lot better since De’Aaron Fox returned to the lineup, but over their last six games they are 3-3 with the 18th-ranked offense and 22nd-ranked defense in the league (stats via Cleaning the Glass). Fox has been playing at an All-NBA level this season but Sacramento needs more of the Keegan Murray from Monday against Brooklyn (24 points on 9-of-13 shooting). Good measuring stick game Thursday against the Thunder.

16. Phoenix Suns (13-10, LW 11). The first game with all of the Suns’ big three on the court was pushed back again because Kevin Durant was out against the Warriors on Tuesday. However, the Suns should finally have all three on the court this week. This ranking is another that may be too low for how good the Suns actually are, but they had lost 4-of-5 before running into the floundering Warriors. Phoenix gets to rest up and can right the ship with most of this week at home, facing both New York teams as well as the Wizards.

17. Brooklyn Nets (12-10, LW 16). Cam Thomas has been back for five games and is scoring 17.8 points a game (down from his 23.4 average for the season) while shooting just 38.2% (but he is hitting 38.5% of his five 3-pointers a game). The Nets could use the more efficient Thomas next to Mikal Bridges.The Nets had won 6-of-7 before falling Monday in Sacramento, the first game of a brutal five-game road trip that includes the Suns, Nuggets (second night of a back-to-back) and Warriors.

18. Houston Rockets (11-9, LW 19). The case for how much better the Rockets are this season compared to last came in Denver, where the Rockets became the first team to beat the Nuggets on their home court this season. Before the season started the consensus was Houston would be better with the additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks (not to mention Ime Udoka as coach), but it’s the emergence of Alperen Şengün as the team’s best offensive player has put this team on another level and posing for a spot in the postseason. It’s good to see Amen Thompson return to action, he’s been touched by the basketball gods with his physical gifts but he’s raw and needs a lot of time on the court.

19. New Orleans Pelicans (13-11, LW 12). After an embarrassing showing against the Lakers that saw him called out on national television by Shaq and Barkley (among other media), Zion Williamson bounced back with 36 in his next outing against a good Timberwolves defense. The problem is consistency, we have seen impressive stretches of great play from him before only to watch it fade after a week or two. Whether the issue is physical (conditioning and weight) or one of mental focus and intensity (or a combination of both) is just speculation from the outside, but no doubt it is an issue. Soft schedule this week — Wizards, Hornets (without LaMelo), Spurs — set Zion and the Pelicans up for a winning streak if they stay focused.

20. Golden State Warriors (10-13, LW 20). A season ago, the Warriors’ starting five was their anchor, the best statistical starting five in the league, and it was winning them games. Not anymore. Golden State’s starting five — Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney — had a -10.2 net rating this season entering Tuesday night. It’s clearly not working, but Steve Kerr has been slow to move away from his core group and the rotations he has trusted for years. He’s finally starting to — both Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski started the second half Tuesday against the Suns in place of Wiggins and Looney, and Thompson did not close the game. Kerr likely will have to adjust the lineups more with Green about to miss time for a suspension after his blow to the head of Jusuf Nurkic.

21. Charlotte Hornets (7-14, LW 24). Terry Rozier has stepped up and led some strong offensive showings despite LaMelo Ball being out — 119 against the Raptors 117 against the Timberwolves — but it’s hard to pick up wins without the defense getting stops. On the bright side this season, rookie Brandon Miller has looked good averaging 14.6 points a game and shooting 40.2% from 3. He’s clearly still a rookie learning his way and making mistakes, but the potential is there (as it is with Ball and Mark Williams). This team flashes moments of potential, but it takes stops to get wins and Charlotte remains 29th on that end of the floor.

22. Chicago Bulls (9-16, LW 25). The Bulls have won 4-of-6 with two OT games against the Bucks in that mix (one win and one loss) — and all since Zach LaVine was sidelined. They seem to have found a groove. The Bulls have been better on both ends of the court in those five games, with a top-10 defense and a solid offense (around league average) over that stretch. The ball movement has been better and role players such as Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, Torrey Craig and Alex Caruso have been knocking down shots. This run of strong play is not throwing any water on the smoldering trade rumors around this team, with DeMar DeRozan looking like the most likely play to be moved. Tough week ahead with two games in Miami than one in Philadelphia.

23. Atlanta Hawks (9-13, LW 21). Atlanta has hit a real rough patch — losers of four in a row and 6-of-7, with the only win in that stretch coming by 2 points over a Spurs team that has dropped 17 in a row. Atlanta has a -8.7 net rating in their last seven games and the issue is the fifth-ranked offense for the season that covered up a putrid defense has fallen to 20th in the league over those seven. Trae Young getting a ridiculous, uncalled for ejection against the Nuggets doesn’t help. The Hawks are on the road for five of their next six, starting with two in Toronto.

24. Memphis Grizzlies (6-16, LW 27). Ja Morant can return from his 25-game suspension next Tuesday night, adding a much-needed offensive spark to a team that has been respectable of late going 3-3 in their last six. Desmond Bane was asked to pick up the shot creation workload with Morant out and has done as good a job as could have been asked, averaging 24.8 points and 5.3 assists a game and keeping his efficiency up despite the added workload. Bane deserves his flowers but the team will welcome back Morant next Tuesday, Dec.19 against the Pelicans.

25. Trail Blazers (6-15, LW 23). Anfernee Simons is back and putting up numbers, averaging 32 points and 5.3 assists a game over his last three. Of course, we’re not getting to judge the fully healthy Blazers yet with Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton and Malcolm Brogdon all missing time with an assortment of injuries. Scoot Henderson has looked better since his return from injury in that he is playing within himself now.

26. Toronto Raptors (9-14, LW 22). All eyes are on Toronto as we pick up steam toward the trade deadline — will they trade Pascal Siakam? The buzz around the league is that the Raptors might consider a Siakam trade but would like to re-sign OG Anunoby and pair him with Scottie Barnes as the franchise’s future. Does Anunoby want to be there? He is a free agent and can walk when the season ends for a larger role elsewhere if he chooses. Or, if the Raptors can take two from the Hawks at home this week and move into the No. 10 seed, would they consider one more push to make the postseason with this core? Toronto has five of their next six at home.

27. Utah Jazz (7-16, LW 26). Lauri Markkanen has been out the last eight games with a hamstring injury, and the Jazz have the worst offense in the NBA over that stretch. Part of that is letting Keyonte George learn on the job — a rookie point guard will mean a lot of turnovers — but he shows promise. George has got to become more of a scoring threat over the next couple of years, but he could be a solid point guard of the future, whatever is being built in Utah.

28. Washington Wizards (3-19, LW 28). News the Wizards might be packing up and moving out of downtown D.C. for the northern Virginia suburbs has brought a lot of mixed emotions out among the fan base. It bucks the trend of the last decade-plus of sports franchises trying to move into the core of revitalized cities and out of the suburbs, but Ted Leonsis will follow the money. On the court, if you’re looking for a bright spot, watch the development of rookie Bilal Coulibaly, he’s been ahead of the curve.

29. San Antonio Spurs (3-19, LW 29). There are a lot of problems — maybe Gregg Popovich would say “challenges — with a team that has lost 17 in a row, but one of the biggest is they come out flat in the second half. Through 22 games, Spurs are -149 total (-6.8 per game) in the third quarter. It’s a hole they then have to dig out of and can’t. On the bright side, Wembanyama gets a little bit better each game. Ask the Bulls after he dropped 21 points with 20 rebounds, becoming there youngest player in NBA history with a 20/20 game. Part of the reason he’s grabbing those boards (and having a larger defensive impact) in recent games is Popovich has shaken up the rotation of late, including separating Zach Collin and Victor Wembanyama minutes much more.

30. Detroit Pistons (2-21, LW 30). Ugh. Just, ugh. Twenty losses in a row hurts. However, the harder (and more important) issue is this: How good can Cade Cunningham be? Is he an elite point guard held down by the talent around him?

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