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NBA Preview: Boston Celtics (45-20) at Cleveland Cavaliers (40-26)

The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the Boston Celtics on Monday night in the second gathering between the groups in Spring, and the fourth and last matchup of the normal season.

Cleveland has a 2-1 advantage in the series. Boston won 117-113 at home on Wednesday, while Cleveland won 114-113 in overtime on November 2 and 132-123 in Boston on October 28.

In a shootout at the game on Wednesday, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell scored 44 points more than Boston’s Jayson Tatum. However, the Celtics were able to hold off a Cavaliers comeback from as much as 19 points down in the fourth quarter thanks to Tatum’s final two free throws.

On Saturday, the Cavaliers beat Detroit 114-90 to make up for their loss. With 106.4 points allowed per game, Cleveland’s best defense in the NBA has held an opponent to less than 100 points for the 21st time in this victory.

Evan Mobley, a forward in his second season, and center Jarrett Allen, a center, have been crucial to the Cavaliers’ dominance on the defensive end.

Allen blocks 1.2 shots per game, while Mobley blocks 1.4 shots per game. Additionally, Cleveland opponents are held to 9.4 offensive rebounds per game, which ranks third in the NBA. The Cavaliers have the third-lowest percentage of field goal attempts allowed per game, at 83.6, as a result.

After losing to New York on Sunday in double overtime by a score of 131-129, Boston heads into this game on Monday, the second leg of a back-to-back.

Al Horford finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, Jaylen Brown had 29 points and eight rebounds, and Tatum had 40 points and 11 rebounds.

The defeat was Boston’s third in as many games and their second in a row. However, in his post-game press conference, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla stated that he had “zero” concern about the term trending in the wrong direction throughout the remainder of the season.

With 117.5 points per game, Boston is fourth in the league in scoring. The Celtics had scored 113 points at the end of regulation on Sunday, falling short of their 48-minute goal of more than 117 points per game in all three of their recent defeats.

Protectively, Boston has permitted more than its normal yield (112.1 focuses per game) in every one of the last three games, including the latest gathering with Cleveland.

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