On nights like this the Celtics look more like a team with an overused season pass to New England Baptist Hospital than one that is six games away from beginning a first-round playoff series.

With Paul Pierce (sore right ankle) a late scratch, Kevin Garnett (inflamed left ankle) missing his eighth straight game and Avery Bradley missing the last three minutes with a bruised left collarbone, the Celtics lost their second game of the season to Cleveland, 97-91.

Jeff Green continued his stellar play last night with 23 points and nine rebounds, but playoff teams need more than one go-to player.

That’s especially true when the issue is interior play, where the Celtics were once again gashed.

Though Shavlik Randolph once again showed his value on the boards before fouling out in the fourth quarter, the Celtics are vulnerable to any team with size and a little muscle right now.

Last night’s bully was Cleveland forward Tristan Thompson, whose 29-point, 17-rebound double-double included seven offensive rebounds and far too much activity in the paint. Small forward Alonzo Gee added a 16-point, 10-board effort.

Overall the Celtics were out-rebounded 58-42, but at no point more egregiously than in the fourth quarter, when the Cavs crashed for a 16-10 edge, including five on the offensive glass.

The Celtics won’t be close to whole again until the return of Garnett, who has been listed by Doc Rivers as a possibility for tomorrow night’s game against Washington.

“When a guy starts out and gets his confidence, he’s a good player,” Rivers said of Thompson. “A lot of guys don’t start out and get their confidence when Kevin is guarding them. There’s a chance that (Thompson) might be (off the floor) because he’s guarding Kevin. That’s why (Garnett’s 30 minutes per game) are so important. It also allows Kevin and Brandon (Bass) to be on the floor, which helps you defensively.”