The Cavaliers and Celtics have had some very entertaining recent history in the playoffs. The reasons behind the fun of this series has recently changed. Let’s go back to 2008, the first playoff series the two competed in the LeBron James era. So let’s compare starting lineups:
Celtics starting 5: Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Perkins.
Cavaliers starting 5: West, Brown, James, Wallace, Ilgauskas.
Now, in 2008 the Celtics had three all stars. Cleveland having one in James. This year Cleveland has two actual All Stars and one who is borderline. The Celtics having only one. The rolls completely reversing in only 9 years. At 23, James averaged 26.7 PPG in 7 games vs the Celtics in 2008.
So lets look at this years series, which talent wise, is a mirror image of the 2008 series. Just reversed. This year Boston is the underdog even though there first in the east. And Cleveland is loaded with talent with an impressive bench and a mature elite scorer in LeBron James. Personally this Cleveland team might be better than any Miami team LeBron was ever on, which is scary.
Let’s look at the probable match ups in this series.
Kyrie Irving vs. Isaiah Thomas. Which is a pretty even match up. Much like Wall vs Thomas, Kyrie is an illusive guard who can (unlike wall) consistently shoot the long ball. As can Thomas, whose shooting 37.9% from behind the line this season.
J.R. Smith vs. Avery Bradley. Which will be my favorite of the match ups. A float around shooter who likes to shoot off the dribble against a lock down defender who is a great help defender. The advantage here goes to Bradley, who is a all defense team and will keep Smith under 10 points a game every game this series.
LeBron James vs. Jae Crowder. Obviously Lebron wins this one. No debate here.
Kevin Love vs. Al Horford. Believe it or not Love actually wins this. Love in my mind is the Cavaliers best spot up shooter besides Korver. And love provides the pick and pop which is ran much better with a LeBron James and Kyrie Irving then a Isaiah Thomas.
Tristan Thompson vs Amir Johnson. Johnson wins this but now by much. Both have the ability to set screens and roll to the rim for lobs and create second chances on the offensive glass. Johnson would win this match up simply out of hustle and defensive rebounding.
The deciding factor in this series to me is Marcus Smart. If Smart comes out and setting the tone for Boston. No doubt he is the emotional leader of this team and gives 110% every night, which a fan of any team must respect. Let me make this clear, Boston will not win this series, They’re just not there yet. They don’t have the bench, size, or LeBron James. Once they get those three things, Cleveland is in trouble.
Game 1 wasn’t anything new, a 117-104 blowout by Cleveland. The Cavaliers looking like the dominate Eastern Conference power they have been for the past two years. James and Love combined for 70, as Thomas, Bradley, and Horford combined for only 49. James went 14-24 from the field and Tristan Thompson added 20 for the Cavs. Game 2 is Friday night in Boston.