New-look Cavaliers blow out Celtics on Paul Pierce night

By @saihoops on
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Jan 28, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts after a basket during the second half against the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena. USA TODAY Sports / Ken Blaze

The new-look Cleveland Cavaliers marched into the TD Garden on Sunday (Monday AEDT) to hand conference rivals Boston Celtics a 121-99 blowout defeat. On a night when the Celtics were retiring Paul Pierce's No. 34 jersey, the Cavaliers dominated Kyrie Irving & Co. in front of a jam-packed crowd in Boston. 

The Cavaliers shook up the roster midway through the season during Thursday's NBA Trade Deadline, getting rid of six players, namely Isiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye and Derrick Rose. The Cavaliers acquired Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood and George Hill in a series of trades to bolster the roster ahead of the playoffs. In a positive development for the reigning Eastern Conference champions, all four players shone during their debuts on Sunday.

While Clarkson and Hood added a combined 32 points off the bench, Hill -- the team's new starting point guard -- finished with 12 points and 3 assists in his Cavs debut. Nance brought energy and defence during his 21 minutes on the floor, leaving LeBron James & Co. impressed with the former Los Angeles Lakers forward.

Paul Pierce night: LeBron James recovers from leg injury 

James, who endured a minor leg injury in the first quarter, led the way with 24 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. After the win, James lauded his new teammates and expressed optimism about the new-look Cavaliers that are once again the odds-on favourites to reach the NBA Finals in June.

"It was a good start. It's almost like the new guys have been here. It started with George (Hill) and his on-the-ball pressure and him just running the team. And then the three guys came off the bench. Jordan (Clarkson) was -- he's ready to score at any time, but his composure was great. Rodney (Hood) plays with so much poise, and Larry (Nance) was just controlling the perimeter, setting great pick-and-rolls. Got him a lob, got him a dunk, so it was a good start for the new guys, a good start for all of us with our revamped team so far," James told reporters after the game, via ESPN.

The Cleveland Cavaliers (33-22) are now six games behind the top-seeded Toronto Raptors (39-16) and five-and-a-half games behind the second-seeded Boston Celtics (40-18). A year ago, the Cavaliers finished the regular season as the second seed but ran roughshod through the playoffs before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the finals. LeBron James & Co. will continue their road trip with a visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday before enjoying their nine-day All-Star break.