By BRETT HUSTON
(AP) -- The Boston Celtics went into their lengthy holiday break with three losses in five nights, leaving them grateful for a chance to regroup.
The Cleveland Cavaliers figure to be happy they won't have to wait very long to put their latest defeat behind them.
Both the Celtics and Cavaliers will try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss Saturday at TD Garden, with Boston playing for the first time in six days and Cleveland trying to recover from a considerably more recent heartbreaker.
The Celtics (12-17) blew a 27-point lead in a 107-106 loss to Detroit on Dec. 18, then coughed up an 18-point cushion in falling to Washington 106-99 last Saturday. They were blown out 106-79 at Indiana a night later.
A five-day layoff after Boston's most lopsided loss of the season was exactly what forward Jared Sullinger thought his team needed.
"I thought it helped us out big time because we got to put it in the rear-view mirror," Sullinger told the team's official Twitter feed Friday.
Brad Stevens doesn't think rust will be an issue.
"I've had 13 straight years of this break," the former Butler coach said. "I kind of know how to manage the days leading up to the first game."
The Cavaliers (10-18) have lost five of six, two of which came in particularly grueling fashion. Portland's Damian Lillard hit a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left to hand Cleveland a 119-116 loss Dec. 17, then Atlanta's Jeff Teague knocked down a 20-footer as time expired Thursday to give the Hawks a 127-125 double-overtime win at Quicken Loans Arena.
"He made a tough play," said Kyrie Irving, who finished with 40 points and nine assists but also six of the Cavaliers' season high-tying 24 turnovers. "It's definitely a heartbreaker."
Irving has accounted for four of the 13 games this season in which a player has put up at least 39 points - no one else has more than two - but his last two trips to Boston haven't gone well. He missed 16 of 20 shots in a 97-91 Cavaliers win April 5, then had two of his 18 points after halftime in a 103-86 loss Nov. 29.
Cleveland is 5-1 this season when Irving scores more than 30 points and 5-17 when he doesn't.
Conversely, big scoring efforts from Dion Waiters have meant little. The second-year guard returned from a three-game absence Thursday to put up 20 points off the bench, but the Cavaliers fell to 4-13 when Waiters cracks double figures - including a 21-point performance in Boston last month.
They're 6-5 when he's been held to fewer than 10 or hasn't played.
Regardless of the results, Irving's and Waiters' ability to score has Stevens' attention.
"I think they've figured out what they do best, and they have a couple of guards who can get wherever they want," Stevens said.
Boston's Jeff Green has struggled recently, averaging 10.6 points on 37.7 percent shooting over his last five games, but he's been a huge problem for a Cleveland team with a revolving door at the small forward position. Green has averaged 25.0 points in his last three against the Cavaliers, including a season-high 31 last month.
While the Celtics wait for Rajon Rondo to recover, their current starting backcourt has made some strides. Avery Bradley has averaged 17.0 points and 51.4 percent shooting in his last five games while Jordan Crawford has had four 20-point games this month.
Crawford had his third career triple-double (11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) while Bradley had 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting last month against Cleveland.
Updated December 27, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price explain how the Patriots held off the Jets, 17-16, Sunday at MetLife Stadium to improve to 12-3 and lock up a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
Greg and Steve give their final thoughts and predictions for what is about to go down at MetLife Stadium today.
Curran calls the guys to discuss the game today and gets into the effect of having no Edelman. He talks about Amendola's role, the Pats running game and more.
Jackie MacMullen, ESPN Boston, talks with MFB about Rondo being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, and how this will have an effect on the Celtics rebuild process
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...
Sam and Ben talk with Greg Dickerson about how fun this year's Celtics team is to watch as well Jeff Green trade ideas.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. Jon talks about his experiences with free agency, what it would have taken to sign him to the Red Sox last season, and his experiences with fans since signing with the Cubs.
Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with newly signed Red Sox pitcher, Wade Miley. They talk about the story that came out about the D-Backs wanting him to switch to a gluten-free diet, and what he expects coming from the N.L. West to the A.L. East.
The boys are back at it, Mut, Rob, and Alex talk with former Red Sox pitcher and new Chicago Cub Jon Lester, they then talk with new Red Sox pitcher and ongoing consumer of gluten, Wade Miley.
Pierre joins the show to talk about the Bruins-Wild game, Bruins trade rumors, and the rest of the NHL.
Jack Edwards talks with Dale, Michael and Jerry Thornton and drops the bomb on us that based on how the standings look now, the Bruins could miss the playoffs this season.
Pierre joins the guys to talk about the Bruins and all things NHL
Tom joined the show to discuss the close win over the Jets and Rex Ryan's comments.
Tim Hasselbeck on week 16 in the NFL.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
Christian quizzes Lou and Tim on which songs were used for torture by the CIA, and Tim is upset he couldn't remember Team America: World Police
Adam Schefter, ESPN, joins MFB to discuss Jim Harbaugh rumors, Rex Ryan's future, and why the Patriots may be better served by not wraping up the number one seed in the AFC this week
Christian shares what he believes will be the three keys to this Sunday's game against the New York Jets
We check in with the playmaker, the hall of famer Michael Irvin for a look at the NFL and all things Patriots as they prepare to face the Jets.
Dale and Michael discuss the trade of Rajon Rondo, and whether it ultimately was a good deal for the Celtics.
We break down Rex and the Jets vs the Patriots with CSNNE's Tom E Curran
Kay comes into the show to try out for the textress role on the program. We learn about her favorite sports and fondness for Rajon Rondo.
Mikey, Mut, Lenny and Kerry Byrne are taling Patriots-Jets and the potential end of Rex Ryan's coaching career with the team.
Tonight marks 9 straight years of the Planet Mikey Show. We play some sound from the takeover which got Planet Mikey rolling .
Jen Royle joins the show to talk about The Taste and what its like working with amazing chefs and how her personality is going over with viewers.
What should Danny Ainge do with these Celtics? Is Anthony Davis the second best player in the NBA? Are the Warriors truly contenders?
Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy joins DJ to discuss the "uncoachable(?)" Taylor Hall and revisit the Tyler Seguin trade. Ryan also shares his issues with how the Bruins are run.
Tim Hasselbeck on week 16 in the NFL.More from this show
We check in with the playmaker, the hall of famer Michael Irvin for a look at the NFL and all things Patriots as they prepare to face the Jets.More from this show