LeBron James

NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS PREVIEW

LeBron James

The top 2 seeds in the Eastern Conference have advanced all the way to the conference finals. Cleveland has blown through it’s first 2 opponents. The Boston Celtics have had a tougher time, which includes a grueling 7 game semi-final round series against the Washington Wizards. This is the match-up that NBA fans wanted to see. Now they have it. Here is our in-depth preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston vs Cleveland.

#1 BOSTON CELTICS VS #2 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

Of the four teams still remaining the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics might be the most battle-tested among them. They survived an early scare from the Chicago Bulls, having dropped the first two games of the series at home before winning the next four in a row. They survived a thrilling, rock ’em-sock ’em series against the Washington Wizards, which went the full seven games and required an epic fourth-quarter run in Game 7 to clinch the victory.

And now, as they enter the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals, expect their mettle to be further tested by the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Unlike Boston’s roller-coaster ride to the conference finals, Cleveland’s ride to this destination was a cakewalk. It took them only a week to dispatch the Indiana Pacers from the playoffs in a four-game sweep in the opening round of the playoffs. It took them less than a week to dispatch the Toronto Raptors from the playoffs in another four-game sweep, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The odds makers clearly aren’t expecting the Celtics to present much more of an obstacle to the Cavaliers than Cleveland’s last two opponents, given that the Cavaliers enter the series as a comical one-to-seven favorite to win.

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue

Any conversation about the Cavaliers obviously starts with LeBron James, and with his performance in the 2017 playoffs to date, that’s doubly the case. As observers of the league, it’s getting to the point where we’re running out of superlatives to describe the level of excellence that James continues to play at. Since the playoffs began, James stat line has been eye-popping: shooting 55.7% from the field and 46.8% from three, while averaging 34.4 points, nine rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Against Indiana, he had a double-double in all four games. Against Toronto, he scored 35 or more points in all four games.

When James plays at such an otherworldly level, he facilitates the rest of the offense that’s capable of scoring points by the bushel. Kyrie Irving is averaging just under 24 points per game this postseason. Kevin Love is making over 40% of this three point attempts. Kyle Korver is shooting just under 50% from three. Even Channing Frye is getting in on the action, as he’s the fourth leading scorer for the Cavaliers during the postseason.

Boston managed to defeat two teams led All-NBA caliber players in Jimmy Butler and John Wall, but this Cleveland team represents a totally different monster. For all the depth Boston has to offer, head coach Brad Stevens will be racking his brain to figure out how to stop the highest powered offense Boston has faced this postseason. There’s not a lot of evidence pointing to him having an answer, either; Cleveland went 3-1 against Boston in the regular season, averaging 122 points per game in those three wins. The one game that Boston did win against Cleveland came back on March 1st, when the Cavaliers would finish the month of March with a 7-9 record, leading to the media endlessly questioning: “what’s wrong with Cleveland?”

Needless, to say, the answer was: not a whole lot. That’s something the Boston Celtics are about to find out for themselves.

 


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