Oh, hey, the NBA playoffs begin today. The Cavs don't get started until tomorrow (tip is at 3:00 EST), but while you're killing time, be sure to check out all the great Fear the Sword coverage we've got for you. For instance: below, we conclude our preview roundtable.
If you missed part one you can find it right here.
Without further ado...
3. Is there anything you hope to see out of David Blatt in his (clears throat and speaks loudly) AMERICAN playoff debut? He is a (clears throat again) rookie head coach, after all...
Trevor Magnotti: The Cavs probably can't gain much defensively out of this series, because Boston just doesn't have the threats to be able to hurt the defense consistently unless Thomas is balling. So I want to see how the Cavs use Kevin Love in this series. Kyrie should be really effective, and LeBron James is LeBron James, even if Celtics fans are comfortable with Jae Crowder's abilities in containing him. Love is a mismatch against any of the Celtics' bigs, and he's going to really muck up their pick-and-roll coverage by drawing a big out to the perimeter. However, I'd really like to see if Blatt can find ways to get Love isolated in the high post against guys like Olynyk or especially Jonas Jerebko. He could really do some damage with his passing or taking the Celtics' slower bigs off the dribble. We just haven't seen that out of the Cavs' offense yet, and while they could totally beat Boston using the same tactics they have been, This seems like the perfect time to get Love more involved, because he could devastate Boston's frontcourt.
Kendon Luscher: I really want to see the Cavs use more of his actual offense in this series. At the moment, we see a lot of pick and roll and ISO offense within the flow of the game. We see more Blatt plays out of timeouts. Not that the Cavs' offense is a problem, exactly, but I want them to feel more comfortable running more complex plays when things inevitably get tougher later and later into the playoffs. With the extra practice time, that should start now.
Really, I see this entire series as a practice series. I was hyped to see that the Cavs were playing the Celtics because the talent gap between these teams is huge but their coach is awesome. I can't wait to see what creative things Brad Stevens throws at the Cavs. It'll give them a chance to practice against different scenarios in a consequence-free environment.
Mike Mayer: I guess I'll just be looking to see what kind of adjustments the team makes from game to game. That's the key for any coach in a longer playoff series. I agree with Kendon that this is a great chance for Blatt to practice coaching in a playoff series without much of a possibility of things going horribly wrong.
Aaron Perine: LOL, uhmmm, I hope that he has sharpened up on his mid-game interview game as he can be slightly dismissive during those moments. On this big of a stage those random moments get magnified. Honestly I just want the team to execute down the stretch of any close game and not have this series fulfill any soap opera craziness because, with the playoff run this team is looking at there will be plenty of time for that drama later.
Chris Manning: For Blatt, this series should be about finding what works for the Cavs with a shortened rotation. The Cavs have been thin for a while as is, but it's a different beast in the playoffs. It'll be interesting to see how he manages minutes for the starters if games turn into blowouts and how what tweaks he makes to throw a curveball at opposing teams.
One such curveball could be using Kevin Love in a different way. By a different way, I mean actually run plays for Love on the elbow and on the block. It's alters the Cavs spacing, but it's something that could be really beneficial in this series. Boston's bigs are not at all equipped to defend Love and it's a series where Love and Kyrie handle the scoring loaded and LeBron can do a little less by distributing more. And in the long run, Love become more of a factor would make the Cavs less predictable for the teams they'll play in the remainder of the playoffs.
Justin Rowan: I'm going to be interested to see if there is anything Brad Stevens does either on offense or defense that gives the Cavs some fits and how he will adjust. The adjustments might not be necessary until later rounds, but that's the main thing I'm going to be looking for.
David Zavac: I'd like to see some consistent rotations. Can't wait to see who makes the playoff rotation. I disagree with Kendon to a certain extent. Heavy Pick and Roll is more than fine with me. It's the optimal use, or close to optimal use, of Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson. It's the optimal use, or close to optimal use, of Irving and James. The shooters around them, not least of all Kevin Love, could do a bit more, and you can implement some other stuff, but they aren't miscast as ... shooters.
The Cavs win the series. So... how many games does it take?
Magnotti: I'll say five, because I think the Cavs will definitely be up for Game 1, and probably blow the Celtics out. Then I am guessing that they'll relax a bit, and Boston will catch them in Game 2 or Game 3. This is the worst playoff team a LeBron team has ever faced, and while his extra gear in the playoffs is well-renowned, I can't see him fully locking in for this series until he has to. So that's why I figure it'll go home blowout, probably a close Game 2, a loss Game 3, and then LeBron and Kyrie combining for 80 points in Game 4, and a Game 5 close-out.
Luscher: I'll be bold and say four. It's always tough picking how many games a lopsided series like this will go because any NBA team can beat any other team on a given night. But I won't hedge my bets against anomalistic situations. Four.
Mayer: I'll say four. I would be shocked if the Cavs dropped one of the first two games at home. I would be less shocked if they lost a game in Boston, but I'm betting that they don't. The Cavs are a much, much better team. Good for the Celtics for getting to this point, but they overachieved this season but quite a lot.
Perine: 5 Games, Gentleman's Sweep, I think the Celtics might take a game out of pride (or Evan Turner has a good Evan Turner game) and they steal one. No big deal.
Manning: I'll take the Cavs in five games. Cleveland should blowout Boston in Game 1 - the energy in that crowd is going to be absolutely unreal - and probably win Game 2. I expect the Cavs to lose either Game 3 or Game 4 and then close this out in Game 5. Boston just isn't a good team and this should be an easy series for the Cavs. A series that goes longer than five games would greatly surprise me.
Rowan: Cavs in four. The Cavs are going to be firing at a level we haven't seen much of this season and the Celtics are two games under .500. So... yeah.
Zavac: Four games. The Celtics aren't a particularly good shooting team, so I'm less concerned about them getting hot and stealing one. The Celtics are moving in the right direction, and have seen good results, but it ends quickly. I think.