NBA Playoffs Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics


Remember the older series between LeBron James and the Boston Celtics’ Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen (and Rondo?)? The two great ones with LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers that saw the Celtics victorious and then LeBron’s revamped Miami Heat finally get the King past his vaunted green nemeses? I hear you can watch these on NBA rewind.

Don’t expect to see the same thing this postseason.

Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, and Jared Sullinger just don’t sound as intimidating of a three sure fire Hall of Famers.

It’s an interesting matchup, though, as the regular season provided only one game that might indicate how this series will go. The first matchup had Rajon Rondo still playing in a Celtics uniform before he got shipped to Dallas. The next match up was a 31 point win for the Cavaliers. The final two games were much more important to the Celtics as the Cavs could no longer vie for the number one seed once the Atlanta Hawks clinched and Cleveland had locked up the number two spot ahead of the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics won both.

So the 31-point win for Cleveland is the only game with line ups that are similar to the ones we will see throughout the series. But Boston has been 20-11 since the All-Star Break even with that horrendous loss. I don’t think many experts are going to pick a David and Goliath type upset here, but it is still intriguing to look at these two teams. Each is as raw in terms of team chemistry as the other, both have coaches that have found success somewhere besides the NBA and still have something to prove in the league.

That’s as about as interesting of a series as I can make it. Throw memories of the Big Three vs LeBron in your face and hope you associate all things Celtics with those years. Then bring to your attention that there isn’t much evidence from the regular season that the Cavs will roll, and make you think the coaching matchup will decide the outcome and not the massive differential in talent.

The Cavaliers have a plethora of All-Star players and the greatest player in the world while Gerald Wallace represents the Celtics as the only player on the team to have played in an All-Star game. He was selected as a reserve in 2010. LeBron James, Shawn Marion, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love have played in the ASG 11, 4, 3, and 3 times, respectively.

The Celtics have nothing to lose. They are young and on hot streak. Here’s to hoping for a series longer than 4 games.

Key to the Series


JR Smith, Iman Shumpert – The Celtics know they can’t match up with Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Timothy Mozgov down low, so they have to hope that their young guards can take on Kyrie Irving, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. Kyrie can’t be looked at to carry the entire load on both defense and offense for the Cleveland back court for the entire post season. He isn’t that good of a defender to try it anyway. The two former Knicks are going to have to step up their games against Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and the red hot Isaiah Thomas. If they aren’t up to the challenge, Kyrie could be in for a long series.


Even though this will be Coach Brad Stevens’ first playoff series, a bulk of the weight is going to fall on his shoulders. An early run peppered with LeBron James’ dunks and screaming championship-desperate fans in the Quicken Loans Arena is enough to take a young, inexperienced team right out of a series. Time outs after a few quick Cavalier baskets are a must. On the other end, if they are going to have a chance at winning, Stevens is going to have to find ways to get easy buckets for his guys early on. I’m talking drawn up plays during time outs that results in point blank lay ups. His guys are not as talented as the Cavaliers are, but in this game, confidence will go a long way for the Celtics.


The most disappointed I have been with the Cavs all season was the very first game. No, not because they didn’t beat the Knicks, but because they failed the intro. The intro that everyone was looking forward to was destroyed because we had to hear “I’m Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money for the umpteenth time in 4 months and “Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon for the millionth time in the past year. Have a little creativity, Cleveland Cavaliers Marketing Department. Goodness gracious. Everyone gets it: LeBron came home and you are too excited to turn down because you’ve had to watch Dion Waiters impersonate a jump shooter for multiple years. Contain your excitement and try to be a little more creative before Game 1, okay?

Cleveland in 4

About the author: Riley Young