Playing the second night of a back-to-back with only eight available bodies, the Boston Celtics avoided a bit of franchise infamy by snapping a 13-game road losing streak with a 111-99 triumph over the largely disinterested Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Rookie Kelly Olynyk scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and finished with 11-of-23 shooting and 12 rebounds while matching his career high in scoring over 39 minutes in a starter's role. Avery Bradley matched that 25-point output and grabbed eight rebounds while finishing a team-best plus-31 in plus/minus, while backcourt mate Phil Pressey flirted with yet another double-double (9 points, 13 assists) over a team-high 42 minutes. Brandon Bass and Jeff Green added 19 points apiece. Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving and Jarrett Jack each had 15 points as the Cavs put seven players in double figures, but the game was never really close (only one lead change and the C's led by as much as 33 in the final quarter).
Back-to-back triples from Olynyk and Bradley helped Boston separate early, building a 12-point lead little more than five minutes into the first frame. Bradley and Green added late second-quarter trifectas as the Celtics' lead ballooned to 18 at the intermission. Boston was up 31 after three quarters and Cleveland only made things look close with a harmless trash-time rally to tighten up the final spread.
The Celtics were playing without Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless and Kris Humphries. ... With an eight-man bench, even guys like Joel Anthony (21 minutes) and Chris Babb (18 minutes) got healthy workloads. ... Boston shot 46.7 percent from the field (42-of-90) and 40 percent beyond the 3-point arc (12-of-30). ... The Celtics turned the ball over just 11 times leading to nine points.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics (25-55) have now won two straight (much to the dismay of the lottery watchers) and will -- at least for the moment -- move a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz and own the fifth-worst record in basketball with three games to play (Utah is playing Denver in a late game and could force a tie for fourth-worst record with a win). With the victory, Boston avoided the longest road losing streak in franchise history (winning away from home for the first time since Feb. 10) and also ensured itself of finishing with a better winning percentage than the 2006-07 team (which owned the second-worst mark in franchise history). The Celtics will take Sunday off to rest those bodies that logged heavy minutes and cross their fingers for better health when they visit Philadelphia on Monday in their final road game of the season. The 2013-14 season wraps up in Boston with a visit from the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.