BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics don’t have much time to think about Tuesday night’s embarrassing 129-120 overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets. They’ll look to get that sour taste out of their mouths Wednesday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A matchup with the 14-44 Cavaliers would usually be the perfect elixir to cure a two-game losing skid, but Brad Stevens will be missing a handful of key players for Wednesday night’s tilt.
Jaylen Brown (right hamstring strain), Gordon Hayward (right knee contusion) and Kemba Walker (left knee rehab) have all been ruled out for the contest. Jayson Tatum is probable to play after missing Tuesday’s game with an illness, as is Javonte Green, who sprained his ankle in Tuesday night’s loss.
After Boston collapsed against the Nets, Stevens half-joked that he had no idea who would be traveling to Cleveland for Wednesday’s game.
“I have no idea who is going to Cleveland,” Stevens said after the loss. “I think most of the coaches are going, a couple of players. I just want eight, nine guys, whoever is going, to play hard. Let’s go. Like, that was ridiculous.”
That “ridiculous” was for the 51 points the Celtics allowed in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night. And then getting outscored 11-2 in overtime, with a lineup that was made up of Marcus Smart, Brad Wanamaker, Green, Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis. Smart fouled out early in the fame, forcing Stevens to turn to rookie Carsen Edwards. The end result was a blown second-half lead, and the worst loss of the season for Boston.
Getting Tatum — the team’s leading scorer — back will certainly help, but Stevens may have to go with a similar lineup for much of Wednesday’s contest.
Brown and Hayward both left Tuesday night’s loss and did not return. Hayward said after the game that he was taking a day-to-day approach with his ailment. Brown was seen getting stretched out at the start of overtime, but he didn’t play in the extra frame.
And then there’s Smart, who may be facing a suspension after he lashed out at officials and has to be escorted off the floor Tuesday night.
The Celtics shouldn’t need their star-studded lineup to beat the Cavaliers on Wednesday, but not having the majority of their stars will certainly make it a lot more difficult. But no matter who Stevens sends out there, he made it pretty clear that they better have a lot more energy and enthusiasm than the team that blew an extremely winnable game on Tuesday night in Boston.