Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - In what's shaping up to be a first-round playoff preview in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers welcome the Boston Celtics to Quicken Loans Arena Friday night.
The Cavs are locked into the No. 2 seed in the east and are Central Division champions. The Celtics hold the seventh seed, but are tied with the Brooklyn Nets, The two teams are one game in front of the Indiana Pacers and 1 1/2 ahead of the Miami Heat.
The Cavaliers are in the midst of a four-game winning streak, but they've played great for a long time. Cleveland has taken eight of the last nine and 18 in a row at Quicken Loans Arena, which is the third-longest home winning streak in franchise history.
LeBron James hit a stepback 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds remaining to help send the Cavaliers to a 104-99 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
James finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 27 points.
"That is what MVP players do," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of James. "You give the best player the ball at the end and he delivered for them tonight."
Kevin Love posted 16 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland.
"To be able to clinch a division and put a banner in our building means something to me and means something to all of us," James said.
The Celtics have taken two straight and four of their last five to inch into the seventh spot.
A nearly unstoppable performance from Isaiah Thomas carried Boston to a crucial win, a 113-103 triumph over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
Thomas poured in a season-best 34 points in 30 minutes off the bench to almost single-handedly keep the Celtics inside the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference.
"One of those nights," said Thomas. "When I got to the teeth of the defense, like 4-5 times it was like nobody was there."
Jae Crowder added 17 points and Brandon Bass chipped in 16 in the Celtics' victory, which in turn officially eliminated the Pistons from postseason consideration.
The Celtics, who went 33-for-34 from the line, never trailed after ripping off an 20-0 run that overlapped the first and second quarters, building a lead as large as 19 points in the fourth.
These two teams meet again Sunday in Boston.
The Cavs won the first two meetings this season to snap a three-game series losing streak.