Thursday, April 29, 2010
Cavs vs. Celtics, The McBone Preview
On to the evil arch nemeses, the Boston Celtics. The only thing sweeter than exorcising some of the Jordan ghosts would be to eliminate this vile crew of miscreants in rapid fashion. The Celtics made quick work of the Miami Heat, mainly because the Heat are way worse than I thought. Oh, and a note for the best player debate...do you think LeBron on that team would have gone out in a five-game whimper? No.
It's hard to imagine a less likable bunch than these Celtics. Led by the trash talking, floor slapping, elbow swinging, jersey grabbing Kevin Garnett, the Celts are a veritable potpourri of antagonizing personalities.
PG: Mo Williams vs. Rajon Rondo - Rondo is quick, fiery, a good rebounder and a good distributor. Making matters worse, he seems to play better as the stakes get higher. As for Mo, aside from his game 5 disappearance against the Bulls, he had a really good first round. Not that he could stop Derrick Rose's dribble penetration (as if anyone can), but Mo did what we hoped he would do, which is exactly what he didn't do last year in the playoffs: score and facilitate. Rondo isn't half the shooter that Rose is. What I want is for Mo to make Rondo take jumpers. If these PGs are trading jump shots, it's advantage Mo. Overall though, because defense is so important in the playoffs, I'd have to lean...Advantage: Rondo
SG: Anthony Parker vs. Ray Allen - Ray Allen went off in the first round to the tune of 52% shooting. That's inexcusable, and it absolutely cannot happen in round two. To prevent it, Tony Parker has to be in Allen's face at all times. He can't afford to cheat off like he did against Kirk Hinrich. Allen still has a lightning quick release, so the Cavs' have to close out on him like they mean it. If he is feeling pressure, Allen will shoot 33% like he did against the Cavs two years ago. If he duplicates that performance, the Celtics are toast. I don't expect much offense from AP. If he can make a few corner threes, count him as a positive. If Allen starts heating up, Delonte West and/or Jamario Moon will be asked to put an end to it. Advantage: Allen
SF: LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce - Merely the third most infuriating player on his team, Pierce made me a believer two years ago, when he carried the Celtics to a second round victory over the Cavs. I'm not saying Pierce has lost anything since then; it's just that LeBron has gotten so much better. This time around, Pierce gets eviscerated. Oh he will score his 20+ points, and of course have a patented "career ending injury" or two. LeBron must make him work for his numbers.
Expect the Celtics unite as a team in taking shots at LeBron's aching elbow. Advantage: LeBron
PF: Antawn Jamison vs. Kevin Garnett - Here is one pairing that really intrigues me. Two years ago, Garnett has the advantage, but KG has aged a LOT since his title run. Jamison is the same age, but at this point is way quicker. Garnett will pull every dirty trick he knows, but I don't think he can handle this matchup. He can't let Jamison shoot, and he doesn't have the speed to stop Antawn's dribble penetration. Garnett played decent against the Bobcats, so maybe I'm wrong about how much gas is left. I don't think so, though. The Cavs need to exploit this pairing. Advantage: Jamison
C: Shaquille O'Neal vs. Kendrick Perkins - Shaq was finally rounding into game shape in game 5. He's going to have a knock 'em down battle with Perkins, one of the few players with size, if not the skill, to at least body Shaq up. The fouls will be flying. Shaq needs to keep Perkins off the boards. Advantage: Shaq
Bench: Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. Rasheed Wallace, Tony Allen, Glen Davis, Michael Finley - This isn't close. Rasheed is playing like the bloated, lazy slob that he is. He brings his 4 and 2 from round one and will have to bang with Anderson Varejao. Yikes! Tony Allen is a decent guard off the bench. Delonte West should roast him alive. Same goes for Finley, a once-excellent wing who left his explosiveness somewhere back in 2002. Jamario Moon is playing the best ball of his life, which is why Boobie Gibson remains firmly planted on the bench. Glen Davis is a large body who will try to hurt someone. He'll make some annoyingly big plays somewhere along the line and get all pumped up about it. The Celts need him to spell Garnett's gimpy knees, but ultimately he's not very good, nor is the Boston bench collectively. The Celtic starters log big, big minutes for a reason. Advantage: Cavs
Coach: Mike Brown vs. Doc Rivers: A few years ago, I thought people were too hard on Rivers, who was trying to coach hopelessly bad teams. He proved his worth by coaching an excellent team to a title. Mike Brown once coached a mediocre team to the finals. He seems to have trouble motivating his team at times, but I think that will cease to be an issue now that the inferior opponents are gone and the Cavs have a shot to avenge that 2007 loss. Slowly, Brown's offense is catching up with his defense. If both are clicking, the Cavs win. Advantage: Brown
Prediction: Cavs 4-1. This will be an intense series with several close games. The Celtics have one decided advantage in that they are willing to get way nastier than the Cavs. That's why I'd like to see big Z, one of the few Cavs with an occasional chip on his shoulder, get some run. I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were a six game series, but ultimately, the Celtics are too old, too slow and too tainted by Rasheed to survive.
Most Hated Celtics
5. Davis - Way to yank on Shaq's thumb after you injured it.
4. Rondo - Like a mosquito in the bedroom at 3 AM.
3. Pierce - Will have to be carted off on a stretcher at one point, only to return 3 minutes later.
2. Wallace - Even as a nonentity, he is loathesome.
1. Garnett - Simply the dirtiest player on the dirtiest team in the league.