By the time the Eastern Conference Finals start off their first game the West already seems like it might be over. No Kawhi, no chance it seems. But who knows, and besides this is about the other series that is supposedly over before it’s even started: The Cleveland Cavaliers vs the Boston Celtics. Yes the other Isaiah has had some good games and his rotating crew of extremely serviceable if not superstar or even star level players have helped admirably.
Lebron, who has been playing, yes, some of the best playoff basketball of his career while the other two thirds of the Big Three have hardly even registered a pulse and they’ve still managed to sweep the first two rounds handily. I think we see where this is going.
1. Cleveland vs Boston: Who wins and in how many games?
Michael Snyder: Cleveland in a gentlemen’s sweep.
Justin Lambregtse: Cleveland in 4. Boston is a good team, but playoff LeBron is an animal and I don't see any way that they stop him.
Ben Quagliata: Cleveland in 5. Boston is good enough to steal a game but that’s about it I’m afraid.
Ben Gulker: Cleveland in 6.
Kenneth Wallace: Cleveland in 5.
Steve Hinson: Ok, I'm starting to get convinced my mistrust for the Cavs is idiotic and irrational. I'm ok with that. Celtics in 6.
Ryan Pravato: Cleveland in 6 - probably looking at several close games. If Boston wins one of the first two then look out.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: I'll go with Cavs in 5, but a sweep is probably more likely than it going to six.
2. What do you predict could be one of the story lines of the series?
Michael Snyder: The pointless “are the Cavs and Warriors dominance bad for basketball?” questions.
Justin Lambregtse: A continuation of the narrative of "everybody in the East sucks," even though LeBron is making some of these teams look really bad because of how well he is playing.
Ben Quagliata: The disappearance of Isaiah Thomas.
Ben Gulker: What can Boston do with all its flexibility and picks to get better while their window is still open?
Kenneth Wallace: I think the Cavs defense is going to step up in a way that it didn't during the regular season. Of course, LeBron will do what he always does, but we're so used to that level of excellence that it doesn't seem remarkable.
Steve Hinson: The Cavs three point shooting disappearing and leaving them looking mortal. LeBron James is shooting 10 percentage points higher from three than his season average. Channing Frye is 15 percentage points above his average. 10 percentage points over for J.R. Smith, 19 percentage points over for Deron Williams. That's already not sustainable. Add to it, the Celtics were the second best team in the league at defending the three.
Ryan Pravato: LeBron is the real MVP.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: LeBron might never eclipse Jordan in the minds of the public, but seven straight finals appearances, four MVPs and being a top-2 player in the league for over a decade will (or should) cement him as the second-greatest player in history with room for more.
3. What would it take for the team you didn't pick to get to the Finals over the team you did pick?
Michael Snyder: A Cleveland injury. Larry Bird ain’t walking through that door.
Justin Lambregtse: LeBron getting hurt.
Ben Quagliata: LeBron James being arrested for continuous assault occasioning actual bodily harm on the Eastern Conference.
Ben Gulker: Injury to Kyrie or LeBron. Obviously, LBJ is irreplaceable, but Kyrie putting pressure on IT could be important to slowing IT on offense.
Kenneth Wallace: For Boston to win, all their role players will need to step up consistently like they did in game 7 versus the Wizards, plus Thomas will have to be unstoppable.
Steve Hinson: Um...well yeah, the team I didn't pick is probably actually going to win.
Ryan Pravato: Avery Bradley shutting down Kyrie and Kevin Love just plain being horrible.
Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Game 1 should be fairly winnable for the Celtics. I don't think the Cavs will be at full effort at all coming off the rest against a team they don't respect, they haven't been as dominant as their undefeated playoff record has indicated, and the first two games are in Boston. If they steal game one and shoot a million threes to luck into a game 2 win, that's when I think the Celtics could win the series even with LeBron in pissed-off mode.
There you have it...only one of us predicted the Celtics to win and that wasn’t exactly a prediction said writer would likely put money on.
What do you all think? Anyone else crazy enough to pick the Celtics?