This upcoming Thursday has been circled on nearly every calendar in Cleveland, but Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott wants to make one thing clear: his team is not looking past the Boston Celtics.
When asked if there was any concern about his team looking past Tuesday night’s contest, Scott vehemently said that it was not even a remote possibility.
“No, no [concern] whatsoever,” said Scott following Monday’s practice. “We’re playing the Boston Celtics tomorrow. They’re one of the best teams in the league. Our focus right now is on tomorrow night, period.”
With Cleveland playing host to LeBron James and the Miami heat for the first time since the former Cavaliers left town via free agency, all attention (thanks, ESPN!) has been focused on the second of two games that will go down this week. But Scott would rather the team focus on Tuesday night’s contest with the team currently atop the Eastern Conference standings and they are happily obliging.
Cavaliers guards Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams were both asked about the upcoming game against the Heat but both quickly pulled in their respective reigns and opted to focus solely on the Celtics.
“If you look past the Boston Celtics, you’re in trouble,” said Williams. “I got [Rajon] Rondo tomorrow.”
Gibson says that while he has kept in touch with LeBron James since his departure, it has primarily been about basketball as James has kept an eye on Gibson’s latest success in terms of minutes as well as contribution off of the bench.
The Cavaliers are one of four teams that have given the Celtics a tally in the loss column as the Wine and Gold topped Boston on opening night, 95-87, as six players finished with double-digit point totals. It was an environment that set the 2010-11 New Expression Cavaliers season off on the right foot as Quicken Loans Arena was electric, leading to many Cavalier players coining it a “playoff atmosphere.” And while it will undoubtedly be just as loud on Thursday, Coach Scott is doing his best to keep his team focused on the task at hand and making Tuesday night just as important as the game that follows.
Coming off of a recent run that has seen them win two of their last three games thanks to solid defense and improved execution in the second half, the Cavaliers look to focus on the team that eliminated them from the Eastern Conference playoffs last season. On opening night, the Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 27-14, holding Boston to just 6-of-16 shooting, taking a third quarter deficit and turning it into a win.
The Cavaliers will likely attack the older, more defensively stout Celtics with a barrage of pick-and-rolls as well as transition offense. With the recent stretch of success from former Cavalier center Shaquille O’Neal, the team hopes to neutralize his size by forcing him to run as well as move laterally on defense.
The Cavaliers have one three of their last four games against the Celtics, outscoring them 105.0-96.3 over that span. The team is also aware that the Celtics have improved since their last meeting and will be looking to catch a Cavaliers team that could potentially be looking past them for their game two nights later.
“They’re a great basketball team, one of the best in the Eastern Conference.” said Scott. “We’re going to have to play another very, very good basketball game tomorrow night.”