With the Celtics sending the Miami Wade’s….I mean Miami Heat home, and with the Cavaliers doing Joakim Noah and T.V. viewers a favor by sending Chicago out of Cleveland for the summer; Boston and Cleveland will play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Both Cleveland and Boston won their series 4-1, but right now the better of the two teams looks like Boston. Here’s a breakdown and advantages for each team heading into the matchup that looks to be a tough series to both teams.
Celtics PG: Rajon Rondo; SG Ray Allen
Rondo is now the best player on the Celtics and Allen is still above average from the perimeter. Rondo’s jump shooting has improved somewhat, so you can’t make him become a shooter and live with it too long. Allen missed a few key free throws in the Miami series, but is otherwise still very reliable.
Cavaliers: PG Mo Williams ; SG Anthony Parker
Williams is at his best when he’s camped out on the wings or corners and hitting his three’s. Parker is the same case, but he cannot create his own offense, like Williams. The key for the Cavaliers will be Williams vs. Rondo, because Williams struggles very often when facing quicker point guards. If Derrick Rose had a better supporting cast, the Cavaliers would be heading back to Chicago Thursday, because Rose killed the Cavaliers.
Celtics: SF Paul Pierce; PF Kevin Garnett; C Kendrick Perkins
Pierce is still the focal point of the offense in Boston and still commands attention, especially late in games. Garnett is obviously no where near the player he was even two seasons ago when the Celtics were champions. He gets by these days on name and trying to intimidate people with his stupid screaming and trash talking. Perkins is a solid player, who will be needed to guard Shaq.
Cavaliers: SF LeBron James; PF Antwan Jamison, C Shaquille O’Neal
LeBron is nursing a sore elbow heading into the series, and it’s a big question mark. He will need to be close to 100% for the Cavs to win any road games. Jamison really has showed his value in the last two wins in the first round and is rounding into form and will be too much for Garnett to handle. Look for him to be a big contributor this round. Same goes for the Shaqtus. He will need to carry over his 14 point 8 rebound game against Chicago in game 5.
Celtics: PF Glen Davis, PF/C Rasheed Wallace, SG Tony Allen, SG/SF Michael Finley, PG Nate Robinson.
Davis played a big part in the Celtics series win over Miami, and also tore a ligament in Shaq’s thumb last time he played against the Cavaliers. Wallace has been a shell of the player he used to be, and could easily be a non factor, like he was in round 1. Tony Allen played a big series against Miami and will be counted on to spell Ray Allen and Pierce for short stretches each. Finley is a seasoned vet and will see limited minutes.
Cavaliers: PG/SG Delonte West, PF/C Anderson Varejao, SF Jamario Moon. PF JJ Hickson,
West had a good series and huge game 5 against Chicago (16 points, four assists) and will be big as he will have to help out in guarding Rondo. Varejao has a slight hamstring strain that no one is talking about that limited him when he played against Noah, who also took him out of his game a bit. He will need to come back to form for the Cavs to be successful. Moon was also a key player in games 4-5 in the first round. Hickson played a big role in the game 4 win in Chicago, but didn’t play much otherwise. It will be interesting to see how Mike Brown uses Hickson or Illgauskus, who only played in the blowout game four win.
Mike Brown (Cavaliers) ; Doc Rivers (Celtics)
Brown has coached on bigger stages, as has Rivers. Based on history Rivers pushes the right buttons more often and many analysts question some of Brown’s rotations at times.
The advantages are tied at two a piece, but the Cavaliers do have home court advantage, which would swing the series in their favor. Both teams are hard to beat on their home floor. This will not be an easy series. The Celtics won their series with much more ease, but also could be given the fact that no one besides Dwyane Wade showed up for the Heat. They will have a much tougher time defending the Cavs, who have 3-4 players who can hit shots in the clutch consistently. Still, the Celtics are a tough battle tested team, and will not go down without a fight. That being said, I’ll take Cleveland in 6. They will get at least one road win, and should not lose at home. Keep an eye on James’ elbow, because if he isn’t 100%, it could be a 7 game slugfest, which could go in anyone’s favor.