Can the Celtics Upset the Reigning Champions?
The past few days have most definitely been a thrill ride in Boston.
First, the Celtics won Game 7 on their home floor, eliminating the Washington Wizards to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2012. Then, the following night the Celtics win the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets’ Billy Kings’ foolishness.
With the Lottery now behind them, the Celtics will have to focus on the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that has to this point run over the Indiana Pacers and then the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics understand that not a single person on this earth expects them to upset the Cavs, so it will be up to them to pull a rabbit out of a hat and to achieve the impossible.
Entering the series, the Celtics have home court advantage, while the Cavaliers have averaged more points and rebounds per game in these playoffs than the Celtics have. The Cavs also come in with the higher three-point percentage, the higher offensive rating, and surprisingly, the higher defensive rating as well.
May the force be with the Celtics for sure, who already have a ton of trouble on the defensive glass. This has the potential of becoming a series all about Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding leading to defensive breakdowns on the Celtics end, turning into open three-point shots, which everyone knows, the Cavs can make all game long.
A interesting matchup to watch in this series will be the point guard battle between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving. Aside from the Cavs and Warriors steamrolling past their competition, Thomas has been the best story of these NBA Playoffs, overcoming a personal tragedy to lead the Celtics past the Chicago Bulls in round one, then the Wiz in round two.
Beyond this matchup, the Celtics will have to find some way of neutralizing LeBron James. Since being kicked by Draymond Green, James hasn’t lost in the playoffs following that traumatic experience, and has since averaged 35-points, 10- rebounds, eight-assists, 2.6-steals, and two blocks per game, while shooting 54.4% from the field and 46.3% from three point range.
Finding a way to stop LeBron will be a challenge. But slowing down the Cavaliers three-point barrage may be nearly as impossible. The Celtics move the ball around well and can shoot the three effeciently, but they will be forced to match, if not supersede the Cavalier’s effeciency if they hope to have a chance against the Cavs.
Other than that, the Celtics will need to do a lot of what Gregg Popovich said the Spurs have to do to beat the Golden State Warriors – pray.
Here’s hoping for a somewhat closer series!
Predictions: Cleveland in 5