This is it, folks. A matchup of the two best teams in the East, for the final time this regular season. It will likely decide which team takes the top seed in the conference, and could provide either side with some confidence heading into the playoffs.
Who: Cavs (50-27) at Celtics (50-27)
When: 8 pm Eastern
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Where to watch: ESPN and Fox Sports Ohio
With some rivalries, you can throw out the records. But with this one, the records are actually pretty important. Both teams are 50-27, tied atop the Eastern Conference with four games left after tonight’s. The Cavs won two of their first three meetings against Boston, so a win tonight would not only put them a game ahead, it would give them the tiebreaker based on the head-to-head matchup. It is not an understatement to say that the top seed will likely be decided tonight.
It is not going to be easy. The Celtics will be at home, where they are 28-10, and they will be rested, having not played since Sunday. The Cavs beat the Magic last night in a game in which LeBron played 37 minutes. As a result, Boston is listed as a 3.5 point favorite.
Add to that the fact that this game seems to mean a lot more to the Celtics than it does to the Cavs. Boston, a team that hasn’t won a playoff series under Brad Stevens, would love to land the number one seed. LeBron, meanwhile, said last night, “I’ve been to six straight Finals, I’m the last person to ask about a regular season game.”
So this is all setting up for another Cavs loss, and some more panic from fans.
Let me just say, at the risk of sounding like a cranky old person, that I’m getting tired of making excuses for them. The Cavs have the best player, and have shown that they are the superior team when they play to their full potential. Yes, it is a back-to-back on the road. But if they are going to seriously attempt to defend their title, there is going to have to be a moment where they get themselves in gear and play like the team they’re supposed to be. Why not tonight?