When the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Wednesday night, expect not only a close matchup between the Eastern Conference's top two teams, but a whole lot of 3-pointers too.
The Cavs and Celtics are two of the most prolific 3-pointing shooting teams in NBA history in terms of 3-pointers made per game, averaging 13.1 and 12.2 respectively this season.
However, if the Celtics plan on beating LeBron James and Co. for the first time this season, they'll need to bring their top game from start to finish.
In their first two meetings this season, the Celtics entered the fourth quarter down 17 and 18 points. While they attempted to make valiant comebacks in both games, the Cavs ended up holding on to win both games by six points. Cleveland is 15-0 on the road in games in which they led at any point in the fourth quarter this season. No other NBA team is undefeated in that situation.
The Cavaliers success against the Celtics is due in large part to James, who is averaging 26.5 points per game and 11.5 assists in their matchups this season. For his career, James has averaged 29.5 points against the Celtics, which is his highest average vs. any opponent and only trails Michael Jordan as the highest points per game average vs. the Celtics.
Not only has James dominated the Celtics, but he's put on a show for the fans at TD Garden too. The four-time MVP has scored 20 or more points in each of the last 15 games at TD Garden.
However, Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas has gone toe-to-toe with James while becoming the offensive engine in the lineup. Not only has Thomas led the Celtics in scoring for each of the past 24 games, but he's scored at least 30 points in both meetings against the Cavs this season (30 on Nov. 3 and 31 on Dec. 29). The only player in Celtics franchise history with three 30-point games in a season against the defending NBA champions is Dave Cowens, who had three such games against the Lakers during the 1972-73 season.
The Cavs are rolling in March. Not only have they won eight of their past 10 games, but they've also added some depth to their lineup. Point guard Deron Williams will make his debut tonight after being signed on Monday, while Kyle Korver was traded from the Atlanta Hawks in early January.
With the acquisition of Williams, the Cavs now have six players on their active roster that have scored 10,000 or more career points (Williams, James. Richard Jefferson, Korver, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith).
If the Celtics want to come out with the victory, they'll need center Al Horford and forward Jae Crowder to produce at a higher rate. Crowder had just a 36.6 field-goal percentage in February (37-for-101), and Horford has missed each of his last 11 three-point field-goal attempts.
Boston enters Wednesday night's matchup having lost three of its last four games, including a 114-98 loss to the Hawks on Monday.
The Cavs and Celtics tip off at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.