The Eastern Conference Finals get under way tonight and things couldn’t be buzzier in Boston. Not only are the Celtics less than forty-eight hours removed from a thrilling Game Seven comeback victory but they are basking in the morning after glow of somehow emerging with the number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery despite being the #1 seed in the East – something that hasn’t happened in the modern Lottery NBA. As an aside, nice trade New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets! How’s THAT working out for you guys… yikes.
Paul Pierce summed it up best on Twitter, noting he left one more present for the Celtics on his way out of the NBA…
But will the euphoria be short-lived? The excitement is legitimate and well-earned, but tonight, things get REAL. Making the Eastern Conference Finals is a nice accomplishment, and the number one seed is cute and all, but tonight, it’s LeBron, Champion of the East in perpetuity, looking to extend his bonkers streak of NBA Finals Appearances to Bill Russell-esque seven. And there is no time to regroup, breathe and refocus for the Celtics. LeBron is here NOW.
Today’s NBA Pick:
Cleveland Cavaliers -4 at Boston Celtics
Tonight is a big night for Boston. Everything they have worked and fought for all season long; homecourt advantage, could evaporate in 48 quick minutes. And as sad as that sounds, I think it is a likely outcome. Cleveland KNEW that they could win in Boston anytime they wanted after blowing their doors off in a huge late March showdown in Boston, and subsequently all but THREW the top seed. Cleveland had it, and was so confident it wasn’t necessary, that they rested instead of leaning through the tape. So far, after an 8-0 start to the playoffs, it looks like the right decision.
Boston has the significant rest disadvantage after going deep in the last two series and having to rebound after an emotional series and Game Seven just forty eight hours later. Meanwhile, Cleveland has been resting and waiting. They are healthy and LeBron looks to still be at the absolute peak of his powers. He darn near averaged a triple-double against Boston this season, and I wouldn’t put a 30/10/10 series past the King this week. Boston really has NO answer for him, and if they choose to help, management has surrounded LeBron with an array of lethal marksman from the perimeter.
Cleveland can beat you any way you let them, and it is hard to eliminate all their offensive options. The only chance for Boston is to simply run and gun and outscore them, but even there, that is asking a LOT from a bunch of players who aren’t accustomed to needing to score twenty points a night.
I think this is a quick series, despite Boston’s home court advantage. And I think that homecourt advantage is rendered moot after tonight.
Today’s NBA Pick: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS -4