The wait is finally over, the Cavaliers can resume basketball again. The Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 115-105 in game 7 to advance to the eastern conference finals. Wednesday night, the Cavs will head to Boston to tip off a series on the road for the first time this postseason. According to Tyronn Lue, the Cavs are “anxious to play, you know Korver, LeBron, and those guys are talking about it. So our guys are anxious to play and get out there.” After 9 days off, the Cavaliers will have their first chance at live action as they have avoided scrimmaging during their layoff.
How Boston Will Try to Matchup against Cavs
The Boston Celtics will game plan to limit the 3-point shooting and impact of the Cavalier’s role players. Defensively, the Celtics do have players that hang their hat on the defensive end of the court. Look for Avery Bradley to do his best job to limit Kyrie Irving and make things difficult for him. Jae Crowder will try his best to slow down LeBron James. Marcus Smart will come off the bench and try to bring his usual intensity and effort.
How the Cavs Will Try to Find Success
The Cavaliers know that they have the more talented team. They must look to set the tempo and control the pace of the game. LeBron James has been playing basketball at possibly the highest level that we have seen in his 14-year career. Rust will obviously be an issue for any team coming off a long layoff. When you have a veteran ball club, one thing the Cavs should have in their favor is focus.
At the conclusion of practice on Tuesday, Coach Tyronn Lue said that he will not give J.R. Smith the matchup of guarding Isaiah Thomas. Going back to the previous two series, Smith had to deal with the assignment of guarding two of the league’s premier scorers. Thomas however, is a different style of player and it will be intriguing to see how Kyrie Irving plays on the defensive end. Guarding a player as talented as Thomas will be a team effort and you can expect Iman Shumpert to pitch in as well.
Being freed up defensively should allow Smith to do what he does best, shoot the basketball. Going into the series it is expected that Avery Bradley will take the challenge of guarding Irving. With the much smaller Thomas matched up against him, Smith should have plenty of looks from deep without much of a contest.
Expect a steady diet of Kevin Love in the conference finals as well, they will certainly need him to find a rhythm to get where they want to go. Amir Johnson is pegged in as the starting power forward and Love should have the advantage on the perimeter. Johnson like many traditional style big men, like to play closer to the basket. If Kevin Love can get things going early, look for the Cavs to make a statement in Boston.