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Before the chaos begins.

April 15, 2009

Before the chaos begins, I wanted to take a few minutes and share more about the potential matchup between the Cavs and Celtics in the ECF. Most of this is copied directly from an email I sent to a loyal reader when I was asked to elaborate more on this match up, and why the Celts could potentially take an early exit from this year’s playoffs.

I am, without a doubt, eagerly awaiting for Saturday. It’s tough to stay focused on the playoffs because I am going to tonight’s game against the Wiz and hoping to be one of the lucky winners of all the potential prizes for Fan Appreciation Night at the TDNBG. Wish me luck… I also have Sox tickets on Saturday night, and so I am hoping the Celts get the afternoon game so that I can catch that before heading to Fenway to freeze my ass off and watch the Sox struggle against the Orioles. The Orioles? Many smarties far smarter than me have talked about the Orioles being the Sleeper Team of 2009. That is a scary premonition to be flirting with because the division is too stacked to begin with.

Another topic. Another day.

I guess I don’t see how the Celts can get passed Lebron and the Cavs. It’s crazy how scared I am of Lebron. I cower in fear and run to the corner to suck on my thumb when I see him on the same court as my Celtic green. He’s THAT good and THAT dominant. The Cavs bench deeper than most think. Remember Pavlovic? He was a starter when they were in the Finals in 2007, and now he is an 8th option. Unfortunately, D. Gibson is turning himself into a good spot up shooter. Is it because he imitates Mo William’s outfit on the court? Who knows. If Wallace makes his way back (still questionable), then Varajao becomes a great option to get elbowed in the balls for the Cavs off the bench. Joe Smith seems to be integrated quite well into the offense. One of their great set ups, and I credit this to their GM (Danny Ferry– remember him??): they go small and big at the same time. Their point guard and off guard are small (6-1 and 6-3), but their bigs are big. The Cavs have 4 total guys that are 6-10 or bigger. And a big 6-10, not a string bean 6-11 like my boy KG. Their front court, therefore, can always be big. Their front court can always have 2 guys on the court that are big and take up space– one of which (“Z”) has a fairly reliable 17-foot jumper. They will always get rebounds, and unfortunately they can play good low-post defense. Their backcourt is dynamic: Mo Williams (great spot up shooter, fairly quick) and Delonte West (remember when he was a Celtic and we had no clue what to do with him: he did have the ball handling skills of a PG and didn’t have the size of a SG, so we shipped him off; the key was apparently to just throw him in a big, strong lineup; West is a great defender, good spot up shooter, hustles like his life depends on it), and then of course, Lebron in the middle. Lebron is the nucleus of this team for so many reasons, but the biggest one being that the Cavs have so much leeway for their lineup and allowing players to play more natural positions and not worrying about mismatches. Lebron can make up for mismatches. Lebron can guard anyone: the fast guys, the big guys, whatever… he is fast, quick, and strong enough to guard anyone at the 2, 3, or 4 spots. How many other players are that defensively versatile? Most of all, he’s getting that look in his eyes now– you know, the kind of look we’ve seen in MJ and Tiger. The look of, “I don’t want to lose”… Lebron is getting it. Lebron gets that scoring 40 points a night (which he could probably do as his jumper develops) isn’t the way his team wins games and it isn’t the way he can carry his team. Lebron doesn’t make excuses, he just goes out there to rip your heart out, and then smile afterwards… It’s getting scary.

If the Celtics get by the Cavs, it will be a surprise and perhaps even a miracle. It will, however, seem to guarantee a championship. Whoever comes out of the East will win. I am confident in that. The West are more competitive as a league (just look at their 8th seed for the playoffs compared to the East), but the tops in the East, I’ve got to believe, are better than the West. Are the Nuggets really the #2 seed? If the Celts beat the Cavs, it’s like David taking down Goliath and realizing that whoever steps in front of them next will just be another casualty. Just another number. It doesn’t matter. The Lakers biggest flaw has been exposed by a few teams (Charlotte and Portland come to mind first): shut everyone else on the court DOWN and let Kobe try to take over a game. He will take 30 shots and hit 9 of them… he will get his 30 points from launching 3s and at the line from getting ticky-tack fouls from the refs… But if the Cavs or Celts can shut down the other 4 guys on the floor, it won’t matter. The Lakers don’t have it in them to take down the Cavs or the Celts in the Finals. If it was a 1 game final, then maybe… but it’s not. It’s a best of 7 series.

So why can’t this same philosophy work with the Cavs? Why can’t the Celtics try to just contain Lebron and force the rest of the Cavs to pick up the slack? The answer is simple– you can’t shut down Lebron. If he isn’t scoring, he’ll torch you with his passing. If he is scoring, then the confidence soars to another level and he’ll beat you in every way imaginable. That is when the playmaker in Lebron comes out. That is when he beats you with something else. And his defense? One of the best in the league.

He could win MVP, Best Defender and Most Improved (from last year) all this year. Unreal.

It would be great for Cleveland and great for the NBA for Lebron and the Cavs to win.
The Celts will have another shot for the next couple of years. They are just facing the unpredictable beast of injuries… As a bball fan, I want to see the Cavs win for the struggling city of Cleveland and I want to see Lebron assume the new role as the czar of the NBA.
As a Celts fan, I couldn’t be more frightened.

Welcome to adulthood, Lebron.

Welcome to adulthood, Lebron.

Next post will come this weekend with a First Round outlook.

One Comment leave one →
  1. A Bear permalink
    April 15, 2009 7:07 pm

    “If the Celts beat the Cavs, it’s like David taking down Goliath and realizing that whoever steps in front of them next will just be another casualty.”

    The defending NBA champs as David? Someone needs to revisit their Bible lessons, Tung. It would be an upset for the C’s to beat the Cavs, but by no means a miracle out of scripture.

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