Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cavs vs. Celtics, the McBone Round Two Preview!

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.

Matchups

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!

nwb

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah Nate,

And so it begins!

I'll agree with you regarding the starting match-ups & coaching, but after that you're sorely mistaken.

Boston in 6. (I'd like to say five, but Lebron won't let that happen).

If I were coaching the Green, I'd let Lebron score as much as he wants (Boston won't be able to stop him, but you can try to force him to take bad shots), but contain the rest of the cast.

Jordan tried that in Game 2 of '86 Playoffs (63) and they still lost the series.

Keys for the Celts to win:

1. Play the intense defense they played all season (Minus Games 3,4 & 6 of the Atlanta series)

2. Force Lebron to take bad shots & force him to do it all himself. And if I were Pierce, I would make Lebron work on defense.

3. Ray Allen needs to step up & hit open shots (was
3 for 12 in Game 7). He needs to have a strong series. If he gets hot, the Cavs may be forced to switch Lebron on Allen, which would put more pressure on Lebron on the defensive end.

4. Keep Perkins out of foul trouble. Z could create problems underneath if given the opportunity.

5. Bench will be key (that means you: Leon Powe, James Posey, Eddie House, Tony Allen & Sam Cassell (No Scalabrine). Time to step up & contribute.

6. Home court advantage: the last thing Cleveland wants to have is a Game 7 in Boston with wild drunk crazed fans hungry for banner #17.

7. Contain Doc Rivers from doing a ten man rotation or making any set plays at the end of the game at all costs!

Let it begin.

kb

Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

Damn, kb,

I never expected to win game one, but neither did I expect the game to be so winnable for the Cavs.

The one consolation is that LBJ will never go 2-18 with 10 turnovers again.

This is of course offset by the fact that Ray Allen will never be held scoreless again.

I give it up to KG and Cassell. The vets came through in the end.

Aside from the outcome, that was exactly the type of game I love. Two teams playing INTENSE defense and not giving up on any possession.

Congrats. You win this one.

Cavs in 7.

nwb

Anonymous said...

Game 1 was definitely, a nail biter, Nate.

But 21 Turnovers by the C's & with Pierce & Allen going 4-18, that probably won't happen again at home.

Neither will Lebron shoot that bad either.

Hopefully, KG has realized that no one on the Cavs can guard him. I look for Rondo to also gain more and more confidence as the series rolls on.

The more confident they are the less Doc Rivers has to coach.

On to Game #2.

kb

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of all the bandwagon fans in Boston. KG is a good player, but never did anything in Minnesota, ie. never took them to the finals or won anything like Lebron has in Cleveland. Same with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, both good players, but without each other, they are not even in the playoffs. Lebron is only 23 years old and carried his team to the NBA Finals last year and could possibly do it again this year. Of course Boston should win this series, they have 3 All-Stars in their lineup. Boston starts to win, and now ESPN and the media all cheer for them. The same thing happened with the Red Sox. They should win too with their $140 million payroll. Cavs in 7!
JF

Anonymous said...

JF,

I can't tell if you're more mad at the Celts or are you more envious.

BTW, the argument that Lebron should be rewarded for making the finals last year doesn't hold water.

The reality is the Eastern Conference is no where close in competition to the Western Conference.

If you remember of the days of KG in Minnesota, he was facing Shaq/Kobe in LA, Dirk/Nash in Dallas, & Malone/Stockton in Utah.

And what was Lebron going against?
Those killer Detroit Pistons (not the Bad Boys from the late '80s). Come on.

Lebron is a gifted player. He will probably go down as one of the top three players to ever play the game (if he perfects his outside game). But until he learns that he can't do it all himself & has a decent cast around him, he's got more to learn.

kb

ps: if it's the case that higher salary teams should win the pennant every year in baseball, jf, then how come the Yankees haven't won since 2000.

Again, you're arguement doesn't hold.

Nate and Jeff Bowler, Co-Captains said...

It's not that KG failed to get to the finals, it's that he failed so, so many times to get out of the first round. Then there were the 2 consecutive years he failed to make the playoffs.

He's been money so far against the Cavs, though.

That said, the Cavaliers cannot afford a letdown in game 4. Boston is going to be coming hard with the D, and the Cavs cannot let themselves be rattled. Should be an epic game 4.

Go CAVS

nwb