UPDATE – Cleveland Cavaliers win Game 1 113-100 over the Boston Celtics
The Eastern Conference’s second -seeded Cleveland Cavaliers meet the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics in a best-of-seven first round NBA playoff series. David Blatt took over as coach of the Cavaliers this season and the expected offensive juggernaut struggled early on in the season. LeBron James was back in town and his numbers were fine, but there seemed to be something missing. Dion Waiters wasn’t happy so the club showed him out of town, Kevin Love also appeared to be out of place and Anderson Varejao suffered a season-ending injury.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics NBA Playoff Betting Preview – bet365 lists the Cavaliers as the favourites to win the second game of the series on Apr. 21 at 2/15 with the Celtics at 21/4
The Cavaliers were just 19-20 before the halfway mark of the season, but things turned around after James returned from two weeks on the sidelines. They also acquired a few players via the trade route and picked Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. The Cavaliers’ offense then took off and the defense also picked up and the club owned the second-best record in the NBA since the middle of January.
The Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens assembled a decent defensive team with the likes of Tyler Zeller, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk in the lineup. Boston also traded four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks and added Jae Crowder in the deal. Another trade saw Jeff Green head down t Memphis with Tayshaun Prince and Austin Rivers arriving in Beantown. Rivers was then dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers to join his father Doc Rivers and Prince was traded to Detroit for Isaiah Thomas. After all was said and done the Celtics finished in the playoffs as the seventh seed.
Thomas has played well since arriving and has done wonders for the team’s offense. The club is 14-4 with Thomas playing and their scoring per game is close to 10 points higher with him on the court. The Celtics put together the second-best record in the East after the All-Star break and their reward is this opening-round series against James and the Cavaliers. The two sides went 2-2 against each other during the 2014/15 campaign with Boston winning their last two meetings near the end of the season after Cleveland had the second seed in the bag.
Cleveland will go with Mozgov, Love and James up front with Smith and Kyrie Irving in the backcourt. The Celtics will start with Bass and Zeller up front along with Smart, Turner and Bradley. Boston’s offense needs to pick up though as their starters averaged just 95.8 points for each 100 possessions after the All-Star break. Of course, everybody will be watching James during this series to see how well he plays and the Celtics will have a tough job trying to keep him in check. It’s doubtful they’ll be able to achieve it in a seven-game series though.