Sunday, May 13th sees the first conference finals take place as the Boston Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers struggled in the first round as they had to come from behind multiple times to put away the Indiana Pacers. However they had no such problems when they played the Toronto Raptors as they swept them in a fashion that was just embarassing for the Canadian franchise.
The Boston Celtics led a similar road to get here. They had to go all 7 games with the Milwaukee Bucks relying on home court advantage. They had less problems with Philly. Although all the games were extremely close, the Celtics prevailed and won 4-1.
Here are our thoughts:
Vin: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are back. A lot was made about the loss of Kyrie Irving and how the loss of that scoring would hurt the Cavaliers. That was definitely true during the regular season, but since the playoffs started that hasn’t been the case. Kevin Love has been unlocked, Kyle Korver is shooting like his peak in Atlanta and LeBron has seemingly mastered the game of basketball. He can get any shot he wants at any time and the odds are it is going in.
The last two rounds have shown that Tyronn Lue is actually a pretty dang good coach. He absolutely pantsed Dwayne Casey in the last series and probably cost him his job. With all the talk about the greatness of Brad Stevens in this playoffs, I think he has a good match-up in this one and we know which team has the better talent. (Hint: the one with the greatest player of all time.)
Also, let us not forget that the Celtics were pushed to seven games by the Milwaukee Bucks. While they beat the Sixers in five, that series could’ve been quite different had a few things fallen Philly’s way. Practically every break in the series went Boston’s way and people are ready to jump on the bandwagon. Kind of like how everyone jumped on the Sixers bandwagon before that series began.
Boston has been a great defensive team all year and the playoffs have really shown it. They took threes away from the Sixers and they went scrambling. That won’t be as easy against this team. Philly shot 25 percent on open 3s in that series, Korver, JR Smith and Kevin Love have been here and done this. They won’t crumple like that. The Cavs offense has really started to click, third in Offensive Rating during the playoffs, and when LeBron James gets going there isn’t a player on the Celtics who have a chance. Marcus Morris doesn’t have a chance, while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could look silly before this thing is done.
Boston has struggled getting to the rim in the playoffs as well and I think that plays well for Cleveland as well. Tristan Thompson can protect the rim among the best of them. These two teams have played among the slowest four paces in the playoffs which I think favors the Cavs. Give LeBron time to read the defense and figure things out and good things will happen.
I picked the Celtics to win in the last round, but I can’t in good conscience do that here. The Cavs are just too good and LeBron is too close to another Finals for them to stop now. They’ve gotten better in every round of these playoffs and that should continue here. I’m taking the same bet I made out West, Cavs -1.5 games in the series. Maximum of six games to get this one done for the King.
Graeme: This is the one the Celtics have been waiting for all season long.
They signed Marcus Morris purely for this series. This has been a year in the making. This is the LeBron stopper. I mean maybe not – but Morris did the business in the regular season against LeBron and he stepped up very well against Ben Simmons.
I respect the hell out of Brad Stevens. Watching the Celtics this season has been amazing to see and especially in the playoffs.
They’re not perfect and the Bucks gave them a lot of troubles but if anyone can stop LeBron(without having a team out of the Marvel universe) then Stevens can.
I’ve got to put faith in Stevens. He’s had this planned for a year. He knew he was going to run into LeBron at some point. LeBron doesn’t always have great games. Cavs were there for the taking in Game 1.
Celtics to win the series.