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Cavs show Celtics who's still tops in battle of the East

The Cavs took on the Celtics in Boston in a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with the Cavs prevailing, 114-91

If there was a statement to be made by the Cavaliers to the Celtics--message sent.

After the Cavaliers big win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, LeBron James downplayed how big Wednesday night's showdown with the Celtics would be as it was just a regular season game.

However, James didn't play like it was an ordinary game as he led the Cavaliers to a 114-91 win over the Celtics at TD Garden in Boston to give the Cavaliers the best record in the Eastern Conference with four games to play in the regular season. Cleveland is 51-27, while the Celtics fall to 50-28. Both teams have just four games to play in the regular season. It was also the Cavaliers fourth-straight win. 

"We came out with an aggressive mindset, especially on the defensive end," Kyrie Irving said. "We did whatever it took to win and when guys have that type of mindset, the offense takes care of itself."

James took over in the decisive second quarter as the Cavs went on a 22-4 run to take a 17-point lead at 41-24 in the second quarter and led 57-42 at halftime after out scoring the Celtics 38-22 in the period, after Boston led 20-19 after the first quarter. James scored 19 points in the first half, including 15 in the second quarter. James finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds.

The Cavs extended their lead in the third quarter to as much as 29 points when Kyle Korver hit a trey with 1:21 left in the period to give the Cavs a 89-60 lead. Cleveland led 90-66 after three quarters and coasted the rest of the way. 

All five Cavaliers starters scored in double figures. Besides James' 36, Irving scored 19 with Kevin Love adding 15 points. J.R. Smith and Channing Frye rounded out the double figure scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Frye started in place of the injured Tristan Thompson and had eight rebounds.

"This is the team we want to be," Irving said. "We are still shaping and molding, but this is a step in the right direction."

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 26 points. 

Tip Ins

Four to Go: Both Cleveland and Boston have four games left in the regular season. Cleveland plays the Hawks twice, with one game each with the Heat and Raptors. Boston plays the Hornets, Hawks, Nets and Bucks. By virtue of a 3-1 record in the regular season, the Cavs will own the tie breaker should the two teams end up tied overall.

Slow Start for 3: The Cavs led by 15 points at halftime, despite hitting just 4-of-19 (21.1 pct.) from three-point range. Overall, they were 11-of-36 for 30.6 percent. Kyle Korver, Channing Frye and J.R. Smith had two treys apiece. 

Picking Up the Slack: Without their top rebounder in Tristan Thompson, the Cavs out rebounded the Celtics, 33-19 in the first half and for the game. Kevin Love led the Cavs with 16 rebounds, while LeBron James had 10.

Double-Double Men: LeBron James had 36 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Kevin Love had 15 points and 16 rebounds. 

Iron Man Streak Ends: Tristan Thompson missed his first game in 447 with a bruised thumb suffered against the Magic. Thompson will also miss Friday night's game with the Hawks. Thompson had the longest active streak in the NBA until Wednesday. 

Frye Time: Channing Frye started in place of Tristan Thompson and scored 10 points with eight rebounds. 

Good Sign: Kyle Korver played in the back-to-back after returning with a sore knee. Korver played 12 minutes on Tuesday night against Orlando and scored 11 points and then played 19:16 minutes on Wednesday night against Boston scoring six points on 2-of-2 from long distance.

Next Up: The Cavs will travel to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Friday night at 7:30 pm.

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