The Cleveland Cavaliers managed to overcome some early jitters in game one and cruised to a commanding victory against the Boston Celtics. They will try to build upon that performance Tuesday night as they once again host the Celtics.
Who: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
When: 7:00 Eastern Time
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, The Land, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: NBA TV, Fox Sports Ohio
Enemy blog: www.celticsblog.com
The Cavaliers didn't show the same hiccups in game one of the postseason that we saw against the New York Knicks to open the regular season. Despite subpar shooting nights from LeBron James, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, they managed to remain productive enough to withstand a pretty good punch provided by the Celtics. The formula for game two will likely be a lot more of the same.
The Celtics elected to use a fair bit of zone against the Cavaliers. While it was designed to take away opportunities for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James at the rim, they surrendered a ton of quality looks from the perimeter. Their tendency to overload on the strong side also meant that they were out of position for a lot of rebounds. I would have to imagine that the Celtics would try to change up their defensive game plan Tuesday, otherwise they will only assist in helping the Cavs find their range from deep.
Containing Isiah Thomas will remain a focal point for the Cavaliers. While he started cooking early in game one, the Cavs adjusted well and were able to limit his effectiveness once they locked in on defense. Even though he comes in off the bench, he is still the Celtics best player and a spark plug to their entire roster. If you can keep him out of the game, it's unlikely that their offense will be dynamic enough to keep pace with the Cavs.
The Cavs received perfect performances in my eyes from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. While I would expect more shots to go down for Love, he took all the right shots and competed on both ends of the floor. For them to continue playing the way they exhibited game one would be phenomenal for the Cavs.
Other keys to victory:
- Limit turnovers. The Celtics are not as talented as the Cavaliers. Winning the turnover battle and not giving them extra possession will make it incredibly difficult to keep the game within reach.
- Control the boards. The Cavs have far better rebounders than the Celtics at almost every position. It's the same philosophy as the above point. If you ensure that you have more possessions than your opponent, you're going to maximize your chances at scoring and winning.
- The Cavs have LeBron James.
- The Celtics do not.
- Getting everybody involved. While Tristan Thompson is probably a better fit against Boston's mobile big men, it doesn't mean that Timofey Mozgov wouldn't be able to get some quality scoring opportunities while he is out there. He's better than any big the Celtics have, and making sure players like he and Iman Shumpert are involved and rewarded for what they bring on defense is likely to produce future dividends for the team.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
I think we see the first game of the playoff death machine. The Cavs make up for the shots they missed Sunday by pouring it on Boston. Cavs win 118-96.