Celtics seeking validation against Cavaliers in East Finals


The Cavaliers won the season series 3-1, and on April 5, they beat the Celtics 114-91 in Boston.

James' comments were directly linked to the fact that the Cavaliers had only played eight games in the span of 40 days. Now it's LeBron in the way again, this time with Cleveland.

Our experts have mulled it over and have come up with their predictions for the upcoming Cavs-Celtics series, with the victor headed to the NBA Finals.

Offensively, Boston relies heavily on point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is averaging 25.4 points and 6.5 assists in the playoffs. It allowed the Cavs to let the No. 1 seed slip away without too much worry when they rested players in the final week. It is an understanding that Kyrie Irving is also averaging 23.8 points per game, giving the Cavs a 58-point-per-game one-two punch.

Here are some things to watch as the Eastern Conference finals begin Wednesday.

Does James need games off or not?

"That's just normal but practice isn't games so their rhythm may be off a little bit". They didn't give us a chance in this series. Now it's time to see if they belong. Cleveland hasn't lost on the road in these playoffs and has reeled off six straight road wins since dropping Game 2 of the Finals a year ago at Golden State. He will be the youngest player to do so. LeBron James is on a different level from everybody else right now, plus he's extremely well-rested. In Game 2, a very different IN team showed up IN an 82-79 win as a road underdog. But you won't find anybody within the Celtics organization feeling that way, even if it does feel like a longshot. But the Cavs, 8-0 in these playoffs, are clearly the favorites as they hope to repeat as National Basketball Association champions. Look how rusty the Golden State Warriors looked early on in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Now, it is the Celtics who stand in the way of James making a seventh consecutive trip to the finals.

We know Thomas is the star that needs to shine the brightest if the Celtics have any chance. This will be the sixth time James has faced the Celtics in the postseason, and his history with them has run from great to forgettable. He's 3-2, having lost in 2008 and 2010 and won in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Again, such a modest goal doesn't fit in with the championship mantra of Boston, but it is an acceptance of the way of life in the National Basketball Association.

I believe we are witnessing the start of what will be the East's best rivalry over the next three years or so between the Celtics and Cavaliers.

More news: Boston Celtics: Eastern Conference Finals game times and TV information vs. Cavaliers

"It's two different teams", James said when asked if there was something to be gained from that victory. Boston is definitely on the rise.

"I knew coach (Brad) Stevens did a great job even then", Lue told reporters Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers don't need to be first, but they sure better not be worse than third. Center Al Horford is averaging 16.1 points and guard Avery Bradley is averaging 15.8 a game.

So where do the Celtics have an edge here? I've seen Jae Crowder get chippy in playoff series before.

"That's where LeBron is so good", Stevens said. So expect a high-scoring series.

Olynyk looked unconscious out there, hitting 10 of 14 shots on his way to 26 points - 14 of which came in the fourth.

James will renew his rivalry with the NBA's most storied franchise today as the Cavaliers, who have been waiting for an opponent since May 7, open the Eastern Conference finals in Boston. It is an acknowledgment that LeBron James is averaging 34.4 points per game this postseason, the second-best mark of his Hall of Fame career.

The Celtics needed six games to dispense with the Chicago Bulls in the opening round and seven grueling matches against the Washington Wizards to reach the this point. Love and Tristan Thompson should thrive on the glass since the Celtics are a very suspect group of rebounders ...