NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview and Tips

It's a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals but both sides with almost totally different lineups. Will the result be different too?

Alex Herman
 | 
Wed, 9 May, 2:00 PM

 

Eastern Conference Finals - Boston Celtics (2) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (4)

 

Four teams remain as the Conference Finals are upon us. We take a look at the two matchups and make predictions on who will make it to the NBA Finals and how they will get there.

 

The Playoffs in the East has thrown a number of surprises at us and it was certainly the more wide-open of the two conferences in terms of who we’d see in the conference finals. And yet, here we are with the same sides at this point of the Playoffs last year.

 

Regular Season Team Comparison:

 

Boston

Stat

Cleveland

104.0

Points Per Game

110.9

100.4

Points Allowed Per Game

109.9

45.0%

Field Goal %

47.6%

37.7%

3-point %

37.2%

13.3

Turnovers Per Game

13.3

 

Key Players

 

This matchup couldn’t be more contrasting teams in terms of where they each generate their wins from. For the Cavaliers, it’s obvious that Lebron James needs to perform for them (which he has done) to have any chance of winning this series. For Boston, it’s not nearly as obvious. Hit with injuries to their would-be superstars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Haywood have meant it’s been a true team effort to get to this point of the season. This is highlighted by the fact Boston’s highest scoring player these Playoffs only ranks 24th in the league for playoff scoring. I’m going to say Jayson Tatum is one of the major keys for Boston’s success.

 

Lebron has been…well…Lebron in these Playoffs. Averaging an astonishing 34 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists per game, he’s proven time and time again he’s not only keeping up his game but improving on it, in his 15th season. However, he might have a tougher task here taking on the Boston defense who ranked 3rd in points allowed and 2nd in field goal percentage allowed. As well as this, when you look at last season’s playoffs, you see Lebron averaged 29.6 points in the Boston series after averaging 36 against the Raptors and 33 against the Pacers in the series before the Finals.

 

Jayson Tatum isn’t exactly a household name but he’s really stepped up in the absence of key players, scoring 20+ points in the last 7 matches after averaging just 14 points per game in the regular season. If he can continue that sort of production, it’ll go a long way in Boston’s cause to topple the Cavs.

 

 

 

 

Other Players To Watch

 

The obvious second option for the Cavaliers is Kevin Love but I’m going to say Kyle Korver has become a significant part of the Cavs’ offense and really changed the game when he knocks down his threes. He’s become a more reliable performer than starter JR Smith so don’t be surprised if Korver sees more minutes than him. When he’s hitting his shots, it adds a new dimension to the offense which is extremely difficult to defend.

 

While he won’t score 20 points a game, Aussie Aron Baynes has certainly provided valuable minutes and adds a real dimension of physicality to the Celtics’ game. His tenacity to grab rebounds may prove significant against the Cavs who have struggled at times to secure the boards. He can also shoot the odd three-ball once in a while!

 

Predictions:

Cleveland Cavaliers to Win the Eastern Conference FinalsEastern Conference - Winner

Boston are consistently an extremely well-coached team, proven again this postseason by winning two series despite key injuries which to most other teams would be impossible to recover from. He Celtics should put up more of a fight than Toronto did as they’re a sounder defensive team but if the Cavs play like they did against Toronto and continue to find their form after a season of inconsistency, the Celtics simply don’t have the firepower needed to win over a 7 game series.

 

I see the Cavaliers winning in 5 games.

Cleveland Cavaliers to Win the Eastern Conference FinalsEastern Conference - Winner

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