Despite an impressive win over the Wizards, being the number one seed and holding home court advantage for the series, the Boston Celtics find themselves as a big underdog for the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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That is all talk for another time though, let’s talk about this series. The Cavaliers are big favorites as they have LeBron James and he is the best player in the world, but how do they match-up from there?
Kevin Love and Al Horford are almost a wash. They both can nail the three and stretch the floor. I’d give a slight edge to Love’s rebounding and a slight edge to Horford’s ball handling. The big match-up will be Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving. Both men can score in droves and they will be guarding each other a lot in this series. Neither one is very good at defense so this will really be on Kyrie to take advantage of the size mismatch.
You have to think that Cavaliers will treat Thomas like they treated Stephen Curry in last year’s NBA Finals. Just continually putting the little guy in pick-and-rolls on defense and taking advantage of the mismatch. That really did a number on Curry as that series went on and, as good as he is, Thomas is no Steph Curry. That could be the key for the Cavaliers to keep this as a short series.
The Celtics have a lot of shooting with Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk all able to drain from downtown. That was a big advantage for them in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but the Cavaliers have so much more shooting that it’s not even fair. Kyle Korver, JR Smith and Channing Frye are three of the best three-point shooters in the league and LeBron is constantly creating for them. That advantage for the Celtics is a disadvantage in this series.
Rebounding was a problem for the Celtics as well and that will be a problem here as well. Tristan Thompson cleans up down there and Kevin Love will bang as well. I just have trouble seeing where the Celtics have an advantage here.
In all honesty, I see this series as another sweep or possibly a five-game gentleman’s sweep. The Cavs are just too good, too rested and too determined to get back to the Finals. The Celtics had a nice run, but they have a lot of work to do before they are on the level of this Cavaliers team.
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