What the Cavs are saying about the Celtics ahead of Game 1

Ruben Holloway
May 13, 2018

We'll miss Kyrie and Isaiah and some of the storylines we were promised on after a insane offseason, but this series should still have plenty of intrigue.

Now that the traffic has cleared, the National Basketball Association playoffs feature four heavyweight teams ready to slug it out.

The conference finals begin Sunday afternoon when the Boston Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The NBA's playoff pool for this season is $20 million, and here's a look at how much the four remaining teams have made so far in this postseason - along with a look at what they could get. He was officially shut down in April with a knee injury.

The Celtics and Cavaliers meet on Sunday for a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals.

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The Boston Celtics - without Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving - have banded together and advanced through the playoffs.

For starters, Cleveland isn't almost as good this season. Korver, Love and Smith's open looks need to fall, and the Cavaliers bench needs to pick up the slack.

Nothing reveals a team's character like its response to a star player suffering a season-ending injury in the season opener. The Celtics were the best defensive team in the league during the regular season, and facing a Cavs offense that is firing on all cylinders will be a great challenge for them. Tatum is also the nephew of former Cavalier Larry Hughes and a cousin of Cavs head coach Ty Lue. Thomas, damaged goods with a mangled hip, never fit in the lineup or meshed in the Cavs' turmoil-filled locker room. This is the chess match to watch in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It was anyone's guess which teams in the Eastern Conference would reach the conference final series this season.

Against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics had a real advantage: Players who could guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid one-on-one, forcing the stars to try to make plays in hard isolation sets against defenders who were up to the task. "Boston is fun. They have a great crowd". The series that everyone wanted and expected during a convoluted offseason has come to fruition.

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The Rockets, on the other hand, much like Cleveland, rely a lot more on the unbelievable one-on-one playmaking ability of James Harden, and to a lesser extent, Chris Paul. They're really good. They're always in the right spot. "I'm sure he'll speak to all of our players individually - we've all played against Cleveland now a bunch, in the postseason, too - the last couple of years".

In the only post-trade deadline meeting between the Cavs and Celtics, Cleveland throttled Boston in TD Garden 121-99. Altman didn't stop there, dealing Crowder and Derrick Rose to Utah for Rodney Hood, sending Dwyane Wade back to Miami and acquiring point guard George Hill from Sacramento.

Toronto had played a lung-busting 14 games in 2016 before they finally met the Cavs, who'd had eight days between series to rest and rehabilitate. Harden has 285 points to James' 377. Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two of the game's rising young stars and Cleveland native Terry Rozier has emerged as a postseason menace, filling in for Irving and quickly winning over Boston fans, who have dubbed him "Scary Terry". James is averaging 34.3 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists in 11 games in these playoffs, which has included him making two buzzer-beaters, scoring 45 points in Game 7 to oust in and dispatching Toronto with shocking ease. The over/under point total for Game 1 is sitting at 204.

Said Brown: "Definitely not a one-on-one thing, it's definitely going to be a team thing". "He's obviously a special talent".

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