After escaping from what could have been the biggest upset in NBA Playoff history, the Boston Celtics have refocused their attention to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference Semi Finals match up which begins tomorrow night at the TD Banknorth Garden at 8pm. Boston will welcome Lebron James and Co. to town for another great series that has the potential to feature a little bit of everything.
“They’re a group that’s defending Eastern Conference champs,” said Kevin Garnett after yesterday’s victory. “To do anything, you’ve got to get through them. It’s good that we have home-court advantage. I think it should be a good series.”
Going into the 2008 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics appeared to be the heavy favorite coming out of the East, but after the Atlanta Hawks forced a 7 game series, capturing 3 wins at home against Boston, many are beginning to wonder if Boston has what it takes to be NBA Champions. The young and athletic Hawks showed the rest of the league that the Celtics are beatable on the road. Now it’s up to the Celtics to prove to the league that the losses were just a fluke and that they had the best road record in the league on the regular season for a reason.
The Cavs are coming off of a 4-2 series win over the Washington Wizards that featured some very physical play. Suspensions were enforced and both teams were on their toes if anything else was to escalate on the floor during the action. This intensity will carry over to the Boston series and Lebron knows that there is a lot at stake.
“We all know the history of the Boston Celtics,” James said before practice over the weekend. “They’ve been unbelievable to the history of the NBA and this year it was good to see them back at the top or close to the top. I haven’t played their in the post season yet, but it’s going to be fun.”
The Celtics will be focusing the majority of their defensive attention toward James, trying to limit his touches so that he can’t score or dish out assists. Garnett and James Posey will be covering him the majority of the time but there will be some rotations when Paul Pierce will have his hands full, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis may be in there to eat a few minutes if the others are in foul trouble.
If Cleveland wants to win this series they will have to do something that they could not do during the regular season vs. Boston, and that is win a game on the road. The two teams split the 4 game regular season match ups 2-2, with both teams winning their games on their home courts. The Celtics have the home court advantage for this Eastern Conference Semi-Finals match up and it could play a big factor just as it did for their first round series.
The biggest difference between these two teams is the depth of their benches. The Celtics have comfortably gone 8 or 9 deep all season long, while the Cavs are not as strong after their 7th man. This has the potential to wear a team down, and force starters to stay out of foul trouble. The Celtics averaged 22 free throw attempts per game in the ATL series, and will continue to take the ball to the hoop against the Cavs, forcing defenders to create some type of contact on many drives.
Everyone is excited about this series and for good reason, but when it is said and done with the team that can win on the road will be the team that advances to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tickets are now available for Games 1 and 2 at the TD Banknorth Garden!