Thus far, the Boston Celtics have been riding a rollercoaster of wins and losses. As the ride begins another plunge, they would like to stop and get off.
The Celtics visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in Tuesday’s best NBA game, hoping to avenge their inexplicable last-second home loss Sunday.
Boston held an 11-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play and appeared to be headed for a fifth straight win. However, the ride took an unexpected sudden turn as the Cavaliers scored the last 12 points for an 88-87 victory that stunned the crowd at TD Garden.
The game-winning basket was scored on a driving, spinning layup by Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving with 2.6 seconds to play. Earlier this season, Irving missed a similar shot at Indiana, a game Cleveland (8-11) lost in overtime.
Coach Byron Scott did not hesitate, calling the same play for Irving, the front-runner in the Rookie of the Year race. He leads all rookies with 17.9 points per game, and if Cleveland beats Boston again, it will tie idle Milwaukee for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Boston (8-9). The Celtics began the season 0-3, welcomed back Paul Pierce and won four in a row, only to follow with five consecutive losses.
Boston hopes point guard Rajon Rondo, uncertain for Tuesday with a sprained wrist, will be able to play and counter Irving.
Whether or not Rondo plays, the Celtics have to execute better down the stretch. During Sunday’s collapse, Ray Allen bricked an open layup, Kevin Garnett traveled and Paul Pierce failed to get off a shot before the final buzzer.
Cleveland’s Anthony Parker (back spasms) and Daniel Gibson (sore neck) are both game-time decisions. In addition to Rondo, Boston’s Keyon Dooling and Jermaine O’Neal are also day-to-day.