Since my original post on the Cavs-Celtics matchup somehow got erased, dammit, I'll be brief:
That swarm of insects calling themselves Wizards is gone. Now the Cavs have a real challenge, one looking to raise a 17th banner to its rafters.
PG: Delonte West vs. Rajon Rondo. two up and coming guards going at it. Rondo is the stronger defender and West is a better shooter. Still, they're pretty evenly matched in all areas. Delonte is going to have to protect the ball against Rondo's pressure or the turnovers will pile up. Advantage: even.
SG: Wally Szczerbiak vs. Ray Allen. Two shooters whose defense is suspect. Ray Allen is obviously the superior player, the Cavs success hinges on containing this dude, who will no doubt hit some backbreaking shots in this series. The key is for Wally to make Allen work for his shot and make him work, work, work on the defensive end. 15 points a game from Wally would really make the Cavs hard to beat. Advantage: Allen.
SF: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce. No secret that these guys don't care for each other. They've had some epic battles in the past, and both should be primed for this series. I do, however, expect LeBron to put a hurting on the inferior, but still very, very good Pierce. LeBron was a virtuoso in games one and six against Washington, playing some of the best ball I've ever seen in my life. If he can do that against Boston, the Celts will be in trouble. Advantage: LeBron.
PF: Ben Wallace vs. Kevin Garnett: Big Ben is going to have to get into Garnett's face and keep him off the glass as best he can. KG can be rattled, and he loves losing playoff series. Wallace needs to make Garnett shoot those nifty turnaround jumpers from as far from the basket as he can. Advantage: Garnett.
C: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Kendrick Perkins. This matchup really highlights the advantage the Cavs have in the paint. I have a strong feeling that Perkins doesn't want to guard Z on the perimeter. The Cavs need to remember their center all series long. Give him his touches and good things will happen. Advantage: Z.
Bench: For the Cavs, obviously Daniel Gibson needs to keep making that jumper. Aside from that, he needs to protect the ball and not make turnovers on dribble drives--still a weakness in his game. Anderson Varejao will be critical in defending Garnett. Varejao must, must do to Garnett what he did to Rasheed Wallace in last year's conference finals, which is get into his opponent's head. Varejao was absent vs. Washington. The Cavs can't afford that anymore. If West and Gibson struggle to contain Allen, look for Sasha Pavlovic to get some minutes. Joe Smith provides another hustling big man to pester Boston's frontcourt. Devin Brown provides defensive energy, but his erratic shot has limited his minutes of late. For the Celts, James Posey is a three point shooting bastard who I fully expect to annoy the shit out of me. Eddie House, Leon Powe, Big Baby and Brian Scalabrine are all competent. Sam Cassell, as ever, looks like an alien from Mars. Really, Boston's bench doesn't scare me so much. Advantage: Cavs.
Head Coach: Mike Brown vs. Doc Rivers. Forget it. Mike Brown, in just his third season, has a wealth of playoff experience and success on his resume. He has proven he can win the big game and make game to game adjustments. Doc Rivers? Doc Rivers would be out of a job if it weren't for KG, Pierce and Allen. Advantage: Brown.
Official McBone Prediction: Cavs in seven. What it all boils down to is: we have LeBron James and they don't. I know the Celts won 66 games. I know they have three all stars. I know they are a hungry team with an eye fixed on the title. Just remember that the Cavs beat the Celts twice this season. I believe our frontcourt is too strong and that the Celts lack a real championship personality to pull this one out against the champs of the East. HOWEVER, the Cavs must win one of the first two games in Boston. I don't believe they can do to Boston what they did to Detroit last year after dropping the first two games in the conference finals.
The Cavs path to victory, McBone's five point plan:
Match Boston's defensive intensity.
Hit open shots (I'm talking to YOU, Wally and Daniel).
Move the ball.
Don't let Ray Allen freak out.
Get the ball to Z, early and late.
LET'S GO CAVS!