2010 NBA Playoffs: Five Things to Watch For in Game 1 of Cavs-Celtics
In what is sure to be a TV ratings bonanza for the NBA and TNT, the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Boston Celtics in the only NBA playoff game Saturday at 8 pm.
Believe me, there are enough story lines for this game to keep everyone happy.
I started with over ten, but narrowed it down to these five compelling and pivotal things to watch for in Game One.
5. Will Shaq Retaliate for his Injured Thumb?
Will a slimmed down and serious Shaq retaliate against the Celtics' Glenn "Ticket Stub" Davis for injuring his thumb in February?
Davis actually might have helped the Cavs by twisting Shaq's thumb, because Shaq is in better shape and fresher for a playoff run.
Shaq can send a message in Game One by scoring in the post and more importantly rebounding. A double-double for Shaq probably means a win for the Cavs.
4. Will the Real Rasheed Wallace please stand up?
Rasheed Wallace was signed by Boston for this playoff series.
His ability to stretch the floor by shooting from three-point range was the Celts wild card against a Shaq reinforced Cavs team.
'Sheed barely played against the Heat (I could not even find a picture from that series!). Doc Rivers has to give 'Sheed a chance in this series. If he is focused, he can guard any of the Cavs' bigs one on one. If not focused, Doc will have him guarding the water bottles on the bench.
3. Can Antawn Jamison and Co. Support the Akron Hammer?
Saturday night will be the biggest stage that Antawn Jamison has ever performed on.
Will he come through? Can Moe Williams channel the ghost of Andrew Toney? Varejao's defense and rebounding are big keys.
However, the Celtics have the Big Three.
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen are capable of rising above these other players and stealing Game One with a "don't count us out yet, our backs are against the wall, anything is possible" performance.
Garnett's just healthy enough to back up some trash talk as well.
2. Will Rajon Rondo play like the 2nd best player on the court?
Rondo is the key to Boston winning this playoff series.
He has to orchestrate the offense, create havoc on defense, rebound on both ends of the floor, find the hot shooter, massage egos, sell popcorn in the stands, pretend to listen to Doc Rivers, dunk on someone to send a message, push the ball in transition, make two or three highlight reel assists, and finish the game close to a triple double.
Yeah, that sounds like a lot.
The crazy things is Rondo might be capable of doing all of this and more.
He's that good.
1. What is the status of Lebron's elbow?
The drama and up-to-the-minute reporting on the the NBA's most famous elbow has reached epic proportions.
James shot some free throws and mid-range jumpers on Friday at practice. In front of the media!
Everything is going to be fine according to James and Coach Mike Brown.
It better be.
If the elbow is a problem and the Celtics can force James to shoot long range jumpers in pain, this series is up for grabs.
No doubt James will play, but his improved outside shooting and his defense have made him the 2010 NBA MVP.
Watch for Kendrick Perkins to hard foul Lebron early to test the elbow.
Do you blame him?
My prediction is the Celitcs rise to the big moment, steal this one, and make this a series.