Before we get things started, let’s take a look back at a few things we’ve learned from the first round.
— The NBA is both a players & coaches league: Since the NBA is star driven, we’ve been conditioned to think that coaches don’t matter. As seen in the Denver/Utah series, coaches matter a lot under the right circumstances. The absence of George Karl hurt the Nuggets immensely, who looked downright clueless with Adrian Dantley manning the ship. While the Jazz looked unstoppable running the system that Jerry Sloan’s had in place since the days of Methuselah. From a talent standpoint, both teams were pretty even matched. Deron Williams had his showing out party, but the difference were the men who drew the X’s & O’s.
— Injuries can hurt & help a team: Injuries were the talk of the league leading up to the playoffs, as vital players suffered both minor & major injuries as the season winded down. But going back to Utah, the loss of Mehmet Okur played a pivotal part in their win as well. It freed up more time for the likes of Paul Milsap, C.J. Miles & Wesley Matthews. What they lost in Okur’s shooting was more than made up in better defensive match-ups and a balanced scoring attack.
—You’ve got to be able to win on the road: Regardless of whether the Hawks win game seven or not, any team that is a bad on the road as they are will always be pretenders.
— Never count out those veteran laden teams: Both Boston & San Antonio had up and down seasons with rosters built (& only care about) what happens once the 82 game season is over. Be it pacing their selves, finally recovering from injuries or increased Geritol doses, both teams were able to turn it on once the playoffs started. So until the teams are dissembled, you can never count them out.
Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. Boston Celtics
There’s a bout going down on Saturday and we’re not talking about Mayweather vs. Mosley. With Lebron James’ elbow hurt, look for him to go to the rack early and often in this series. The old timers should give Cleveland a scare as the Cavs have a propensity to be too reliant on Lebron. Boston’s attack is simply more balanced with more dependable scorers and a defense, like Cleveland’s, that can put the clamps on down the stretch. For Boston to be the first team to four wins, “the big three” have to play like it every single game.
Ray has to knock down shots, Pierce has to prove why he is one of the more clutch players in the league and Garnett has to do more than yell and attempt to scare people. Which is a stretch at this point, on top of the fact that the C’s bench is too weak, thanks to the dud acquisitions of Sheed, Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson. For Cleveland, it’s simple – just provide enough help for LeBron so he can take over the last four minutes of the game.
MZ — Celtics in 7