Celtics welcome lowly Cavs to the Garden

The Boston Celtics finally clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and will try to improve their standing when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

The Celtics are currently the seventh seed in the East and 2 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston trails both the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks by 2 1/2 games in a bid to improve its lot.

Boston clinched its sixth consecutive trip to the postseason with a 98-93 home victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

"We knew we were a playoff team before the season started, you know despite the injuries and everything," said Paul Pierce. "Right now, we just want to focus on continuing to play well going into the playoffs."

Rajon Rondo has been gone for months. Kevin Garnett, only weeks, but the Celtics have found themselves a new star in the making in the form of Jeff Green.

He scored 34 points on Wednesday and is averaging 23.0 ppg over the last six games.

"I just think he's playing now," said head coach Doc Rivers. "I don't think he worries about who's on the floor with him or anything like that. I do think that takes time though, when you're playing with Paul and Kevin and Rondo earlier in the year. I think that's hard."

The Cavaliers will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season. They've lost 10 straight and got clobbered on Wednesday by the Brooklyn Nets, who finished an eight-game road trip.

Cleveland fell 113-95 and infuriated its head coach.

"Nowadays, playing hard seems to be a skill," said Byron Scott. "To be playing hard is your job, simple as that. Basically, that's all we ask of you is to come out, just compete and play hard every single night. Not every other night. Every night. I don't know why we came out the way we did tonight."

Brooklyn took an eight-point lead after the first quarter, then extended the margin to 30 by the half. The Cavs scored 36 points in the first half, which was two less than they allowed the Nets to score in the second quarter.

"Effort, that's it," said All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. "Things went from bad to worse. Once we got down, our entire game plan went down the drain."

Irving and Marreese Speights led the way with 16 points apiece. Speights added 10 rebounds. Tyler Zeller added 14 points and C.J. Miles scored 11 off the bench.

The Celtics have taken two of three from the Cavaliers this season and are 3-1 in their last four at home in this series.