NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview
Cavs vs Celtics
The Boston Celtics will face off with the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals. The Celtics used a strong late season surge to obtain home court advantage and will try to take advantage of what is sure to be a fired up Celtic fan base. They are also coming off a tough 7 game series vs. the Wizards. The Cavaliers rested players down the stretch and clearly did not make obtaining home court advantage a priority. It will be interesting to see if the Celtics can take advantage of the home court.
Keys to the series,
Celtic Role Players
Isaiah Thomas has been nothing short of outstanding for the entire regular season and playoffs. Al Horford was under the radar during the regular season but has proved worthy of his max contract during this postseason run. Avery Bradley is an elite defender and he will likely draw the assignment on Kyrie Irving. This trio will ensure that the Celtics are at least a much tougher opponent than anyone they have played so far in the postseason. The Celtic role players will be the deciding factor if they can win games and even perhaps shock the world and dethrone the champs. The Celtics don’t have a consistent rotation and Coach Brad Stevens isn’t afraid to try different combinations. Jae Crowder is a fantastic defensive player who will almost certainly draw the assignment on James. His outside shooting will need to be consistent if the Celtics want to win the series. Amir Johnson has been starting at center lately but only played 10 minutes in game 7. Kelly Olynyk had 29 points in game 7 and his outside shooting will be needed. Marcus Smart is a top flight defender and will likely see time on both Irving and James. His defense and trash talk could possibly take Cleveland out of their game. Gerald Green has had multiple games in the playoffs where he didn’t play a second and he has had multiple games where he started. He is the a true wild card, capable of scoring points in bunches.
Rust For The Cavs
The Cavalier’s will have not played for 10 days when the ball is tipped on Wednesday night. They are undefeated and outside of game 1 vs. Indiana none of the games were ever in doubt. They have the best player in the world and a plethora of experience. The additions of Kyle Korver and Deron Williams make them arguably the deepest team in league history. One thing to look for will be rust. The combination of a raucous Celtic crowd and the layoff could result in the Celtics getting an early advantage and take off from there. If Cleveland is able to find their grove early in the series, it would likely result in a sweep.
The Celtics have absolutely nothing to lose and will likely play as such. Nobody is giving them a real chance to win the series so it would be in their best interest to play loose and free. The Cavaliers are an extremely deep team that is destined to return to the finals for a third straight season.
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